A rainbow of feathers floats upward like a psychedelic butterfly. Fingers of color, violet and lime green, seem to flow outward from the tips of the wings. If you didn’t know better, you might assume it is a work of art. Beyond their beauty, for Shawn Christ these images taken at MU’s new Brain Imaging Center reveal the brain’s activity and connections. In his role as Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of MU’s Clinical Neuropsychology Laboratory, Christ studies how the relationship between the brain and behavior changes as we develop. Christ chose a career in psychology because it would combine two passions— working with kids and solving puzzles.
Up until now, most work with autism has been behavioral. Functional MRI opens up a whole new way of studying learning disabilities. “Now we’re looking directly at the brain,” Christ says.
Christ uses a lot of technology, including an eye tracker, projections, and functional and structural MRIs, to figure out why the brain works the way it does. All of these tools have their advantages and disadvantages.