Term Paper: Positron Emission Tomography (Pet)

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[. . .] How Positron Emission Tomography Works.

The detection of the annihilation of radiation by the radiation detectors used in PET is the basis of the operation. Such detectors operate on the principle of "coincidence detection"; here, the external detection and localization of a positron emitter inside the brain takes advantage of the fact that the two annihilation photons travel in opposite directions. In addition, the system takes advantage of the fact that they also emerge simultaneously: "A coincidence circuit between pairs of opposite detectors arrayed about the imaged object records an event only if both detectors record an event simultaneously (N t nen, 1992, p. 95).

These so-called "coincidence circuits" are constructed in such a way that the signal from each detector is able to be compared with signals from many detectors on the opposite side of the human subject so that the clinician's "field of vision" is expanded, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the imaging device (N t nen, 1992). Based on the number of coincidence counts between each pair of detectors, the images of the distribution of radioactivity in slices of the brain are then processed by applying certain corrections; the different concentrations of radioactivity in these images are then represented by means of different colors as shown in Figure 2 below (Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, 2004).

This figure shows a (PET) scan graphic of the temporal lobes in a healthy and an abused brain.

Figure 2. PET Scan of Damaged Human Brain [Source: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information.]

The PET scan of the brain shown in Figure 1 above is of a Romanian orphan, who was institutionalized shortly after birth. The scan clearly shows the effect of extreme deprivation that occurred during in infancy in this case. The temporal lobes shown at the top of the graphic regulate emotions and receive input from the senses; these are virtually quiescent. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information reports that children with this level of brain damage will suffer emotional and cognitive problems (Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, 2004).

Chapter 3: Methodology

To develop a "best practices" approach to a developing partnership between cognitive scientists and neuroscientists that will maximize the returns on investment in PET technology and its applications to the human condition, a critical review of the scholarly and relevant literature will be followed by a qualitative and quantitative analysis of how such partnerships can be created and improved based on the technique's demonstrated efficacy in various clinical settings.

Wood and Ellis (2003) identified the following as important outcomes of a well conducted literature review:

It helps describe a topic of interest and refine either research questions or directions in which to look;

It presents a clear description and evaluation of the theories and concepts that have informed research into the topic of interest;

It clarifies the relationship to previous research and highlights where new research may contribute by identifying research possibilities which have been overlooked so far in the literature;

It provides insights into the topic of interest that are both methodological and substantive;

It demonstrates powers of critical analysis by, for instance, exposing taken for granted assumptions underpinning previous research and identifying the possibilities of replacing them with alternative assumptions;

It justifies any new research through a coherent critique of what has gone before and demonstrates why new research is both timely and important.

The quantitative element of the research will be developed based on the demonstrated efficacy of PET techniques in various clinical settings for different diagnostic purposes; the qualitative element will be derived from any discernible impact that communication between cognitive scientists and neuroscientists that affected the outcome of the PET technique, either positively or negatively.

The use of a qualitative analysis following a quantitative analysis is in line with Jensen (1991) who maintained that "language is the primary medium of exchange between humans and reality (in processes of perception, cognition, and action), and that, accordingly, verbal texts may become vehicles of knowledge and truth" (p. 19). In this regard, he stated, "Through language, reality becomes social. Equally, it is through language that reality becomes intersubjective and accessible for analysis. Hence, for the purpose of qualitative research, language and other systems represent both an analytical object and a central tool of analysis" (p. 19). Likewise, according to Lindlof and Meyer (1987), the qualitative analysis includes a concern about "under what conditions communicative acts occur, how it is that people account for their acts, what versions of the world are proposed and negotiated through communication" (p. 6). Similarly, Lincoln and Guba (1985) held the position that social reality is entirely mind-dependent because people (including investigators) construct and shape reality, and this changes over time and is sensitive to situations.

Data-gathering Method and Database of Study

This project will review sources found in the scholarly and peer-reviewed literature; as well as premium and other subscription-based services such as EBSCO and Questia; other sources will include scholarly texts and refereed journal articles from university and public libraries.


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Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. (2004). National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. Available: http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/conferences/cbconference/fourteenth/presentations/ahdc/sld046.cfm.

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What is PET? (2004). Scientific Services Group. Available:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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