Brain Images, Babies, and Bathwater: Critiquing Critiques of Functional Neuroimaging
In 2014, the Hastings Center, a major bioethics institution, devoted its Report to assessing functional neuroimaging. In it, Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist and a leading figure of neuroethics, systematically probed the critiques and concluded that while each had a “kernel of truth,” each could also be rebutted.
Yes, Farah noticed, a BOLD signal is not a direct measurement of brain activity, and we do not know to which aspects of neural activity it corresponds. But the relationship between the two is strong enough to make fMRI a useful tool. Images, like graphs or maps, are indeed manufactured, but they are not fabricated. Yes, fMRI is about localization, but it is not for localization’s sake, and most neuroimaging is not motivated by it.
You can access the full Hastings Report on the link below: