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PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA--Ready or not, neuro-imaging is knocking on the courthouse door.
 

Summary: PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA--Ready or not, neuro-
imaging is knocking on the courthouse door.
Last summer, Sean Mackey, a neurologist who
directsStanfordUniversity'sPainManagement
Center, was asked by defense lawyers in a
workers' compensation case to serve as an
expert witness. A man who received chemical
burns in a workplace accident was seeking
compensationfromhisemployer,claimingthat
theaccidenthadlefthimwithchronicpain.The
evidence his lawyers assembled included func-
tional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
scansofhisbrainthatshowedheightenedactiv-
ity in the "pain matrix," a network of brain
regions implicated in dozens of studies on the
neural basis of pain.
But do those scans, taken while techni-
cians gently brushed his afflicted arm or asked
him to squeeze a rubber ball, prove that the
man was experiencing the agony he claimed?

  

Source: Apkarian, A. Vania - Department of Physiology, Northwestern University

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine