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There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread

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There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread  [#permalink]

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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 130, Date : 06-APR-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


There are some basic conceptual problems
hovering about the widespread use of brain scans as
pictures of mental activity. As applied to medical
diagnosis (for example, in diagnosing a brain tumor),
(5) a brain scan is similar in principle to an X-ray: it
is a way of seeing inside the body. Its value is
straightforward and indubitable. However, the use of
neuroimaging in psychology is a fundamentally
different kind of enterprise. It is a research method the
(10) validity of which depends on a premise: that the
mind can be analyzed into separate and distinct modules,
or components, and further that these modules are
instantiated in localized brain regions. This premise
is known as the modular theory of mind.

(15) It may in fact be that neither mental activity,
nor the physical processes that constitute it, are
decomposable into independent modules. Psychologist
William Uttal contends that rather than distinct
entities, the various mental processes are likely to be
(20) properties of a more general mental activity that is
distributed throughout the brain. It cannot be said,
for instance, that the amygdala is the seat of emotion
and the prefrontal cortex is the seat of reason, as the
popular press sometimes claims. For when I get angry,
(25) I generally do so for a reason. To cleanly
separate emotion from reason-giving makes a hash of
human experience.

But if this critique of the modular theory of mind
is valid, how can one account for the fact that brain
(30) scans do, in fact, reveal well-defined areas that
"light up" in response to various cognitive tasks? In the case
of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI),
what you are seeing when you look at a brain scan is
actually the result of a subtraction. The fMRI is
(35) usually interpreted as a map of the rate of
oxygen use in different parts of the brain, which stands as a
measure of metabolic activity. But what it actually
depicts is the differential rate of oxygen use: one first
takes a baseline measurement in the control condition,
(40) then a second measurement while the subject is
performing some cognitive task. The baseline
measurement is then subtracted from the on-task
measurement. The reasoning, seemingly plausible, is
that whatever remains after the subtraction represents
(45) the metabolic activity associated solely with the
cognitive task in question.

One immediately obvious (but usually
unremarked) problem is that this method obscures the
fact that the entire brain is active in both conditions.
(50) A false impression of neat functional localization is
given by differential brain scans that subtract out all
the distributed brain functions. This subtractive
method produces striking images of the brain at work.
But isn't the modular theory of mind ultimately
(55) attractive in part because it is illustrated so well by
the products of the subtractive method?
1) Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?

(A) In spite of troubling conceptual problems surrounding brain scan technology, its use in psychological research on mental activity has grown rapidly.
(B) The use of brain scans to depict mental activity relies on both a questionable premise and a misleading methodological approach.
(C) Contrary to what is usually asserted in the popular press, reason and emotion are probably not located in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, respectively.
(D) Although the fMRI is usually interpreted as a measure of metabolic activity in the brain, this interpretation is misguided and therefore leads to false results.
(E) The modular theory of mind has gained wide currency precisely because it is illustrated effectively by the images produced by the subtractive method.


2) According to the modular theory of mind, as described in the passage, mental activity

(A) consists of distinct components in localized areas of the brain
(B) requires at least some metabolic activity in all parts of the brain
(C) involves physical processes over which people have only limited control
(D) is localized in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex
(E) generally involves some sort of reason-giving


3) The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements regarding the subtractive method?

(A) Because the subtractive method masks distributed brain functions, empirical results derived using the method are invalid for medical applications.
(B) The subtractive method results in images that strongly support Uttal's view that mental processes are simply properties of a more general mental activity.
(C) Brain scans of individuals experiencing anger that were produced using the subtractive method show that emotions are not actually seated in the amygdala.
(D) The subtractive method seems to strongly support the modular theory of mind because it creates an illusion that brain functions are localized.
(E) The view that the subtractive method depicts differential rates of oxygen use in the brain is based on a fundamental misconception of the method.


4) The author draws an analogy between brain scans and X-rays primarily in order to

(A) contrast a valid use of brain scans with one of more doubtful value
(B) suggest that new technology can influence the popularity of a scientific theory
(C) point to evidence that brain scans are less precise than other available technologies
(D) argue that X-ray images undermine a theory that brain scans are often used to support
(E) show how brain scan technology evolved from older technologies such as X-rays


5) According to the passage, psychologist William Uttal contends that the various mental processes are likely to be

(A) independent modules that are based in different areas of the brain
(B) essentially an amalgamation of emotion and reason
(C) generally uniform in their rates of oxygen use
(D) detectable using brain scans enhanced by means of the subtractive method
(E) features of a general mental activity that is spread throughout the brain


6) Which one of the following statements is most strongly supported by the passage?

(A) Although there are important exceptions, most cognition does in fact depend on independent modules located in specific regions of the brain.
(B) The modular theory of mind holds that regions of the brain that are not engaged in a specific cognitive task have a rate of oxygen use that is close to zero.
(C) During the performance of certain cognitive tasks, the areas of the brain that are most metabolically active show a rate of oxygen use that is higher than that of the rest of the brain.
(D) The baseline measurements of oxygen use taken for use in the subtractive method show that some regions of the brain have high metabolic activity at all times.
(E) When a brain scan subject experiences anger, the subtractive method shows several regions of the brain as "lit up" with metabolic activity.




  • Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 80 (Dec-2016)
  • Difficulty Level: 650

Originally posted by akanshaxo on 16 Feb 2019, 23:50.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 12 Oct 2019, 00:36, edited 1 time in total.
Updated - Complete topic (950).
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Re: There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2019, 12:36
Can you explain why answer of Q6 is c?
We are sure of a differential oxygen use but how can we be sure that metabloic activity and use of oxygen is directly proportional?
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Re: There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Apr 2019, 04:44
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Re: There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Apr 2019, 05:04
1
Interesting passage; all correct in 12 mins 30 seconds, including almost 6 mins to read

Para 1- problems about the widespread use of brain scans as pictures of mental activity; modular theory of mind
Para 2- William Uttal the various mental processes are likely to be properties of a more general mental activity that is distributed throughout the brain
Para 3- fMRI - differential rate of oxygen use
Para 4- issue with fMRI method- obscures the fact that the entire brain is active in both conditions.

1) Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?
(B) The use of brain scans to depict mental activity relies on both a questionable premise and a misleading methodological approach.- Correct- the questionable premise is the modular theory of mind and misleading methodological approach is subtraction method used in fMRI

2) According to the modular theory of mind, as described in the passage, mental activity
(A) consists of distinct components in localized areas of the brain - Correct

3) The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements regarding the subtractive method?
(D) The subtractive method seems to strongly support the modular theory of mind because it creates an illusion that brain functions are localized. - Correct

A false impression of neat functional localization is given by differential brain scans that subtract out all the distributed brain functions. This subtractive method produces striking images of the brain at work.
But isn't the modular theory of mind ultimately attractive in part because it is illustrated so well by the products of the subtractive method?

4) The author draws an analogy between brain scans and X-rays primarily in order to
(A) contrast a valid use of brain scans with one of more doubtful value- Correct

As applied to medical diagnosis (for example, in diagnosing a brain tumor),a brain scan is similar in principle to an X-ray: it is a way of seeing inside the body. Its value is straightforward and indubitable. However, the use of neuroimaging in psychology is a fundamentally different kind of enterprise.

5) According to the passage, psychologist William Uttal contends that the various mental processes are likely to be
(E) features of a general mental activity that is spread throughout the brain- Correct
Psychologist William Uttal contends that rather than distinct entities, the various mental processes are likely to be properties of a more general mental activity that is distributed throughout the brain.

6) Which one of the following statements is most strongly supported by the passage?
(C) During the performance of certain cognitive tasks, the areas of the brain that are most metabolically active show a rate of oxygen use that is higher than that of the rest of the brain.- Correct

The fMRI is usually interpreted as a map of the rate of oxygen use in different parts of the brain, which stands as a measure of metabolic activity.
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Re: There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Apr 2019, 10:01
Raj30 wrote:
Can you explain why answer of Q6 is c?
We are sure of a differential oxygen use but how can we be sure that metabloic activity and use of oxygen is directly proportional?

For question #6, the question stem asks us to find which answer choice is "most strongly supported by the passage." So we do not necessarily need to "be sure" that (C) is fully supported by the passage -- we only need to determine that it is more strongly supported than are the rest of the answer choices.

With that in mind, your best bet on this question is POE to eliminate all of the incorrect options. Let's go through the answer choices:

Quote:
(A) Although there are important exceptions, most cognition does in fact depend on independent modules located in specific regions of the brain.

This is essentially the opposite of the author's main idea, which is that "it may in fact be that neither mental activity, nor the physical processes that constitute it, are decomposable into independent modules." (A) is out.

Quote:
(B) The modular theory of mind holds that regions of the brain that are not engaged in a specific cognitive task have a rate of oxygen use that is close to zero.

This contradicts the information in the passage, which examines the "subtractive method" of interpreting brain scans. The author notes that "this method obscures the fact that the entire brain is active in both conditions." So, the passage does not support the idea that some regions of the brain have a rate of oxygen use close to zero when not engaged in a specific task. Eliminate (B).

Quote:
(C) During the performance of certain cognitive tasks, the areas of the brain that are most metabolically active show a rate of oxygen use that is higher than that of the rest of the brain.

Notice that this answer choice is not making a statement about scans using the subtractive method. Instead, it is merely claiming that during certain tasks, the most "metabolically active" areas of the brain show a higher rate of oxygen use than the rest of the brain.

From the passage, we know that "the fMRI is usually interpreted as a map of the rate of oxygen use in different parts of the brain, which stands as a measure of metabolic activity." So, the parts of the brain that are most metabolically active show the highest rate of oxygen use. (C) is the correct answer.

It is easy to get turned around in this answer choice by attempting to apply it to the differential scans. For example, what if a certain region of the brain is always highly active, and maintains this high level of activity during any given cognitive task? It could be the most active region of the brain, but not be "lit up" at all on a differential scan, because the baseline measurement would be the same as the second measurement. However, this doesn't change the fact that the most metabolically active region of the brain will show the highest rate of oxygen usage.

This is why it is important to look at the exact wording of the answer choice. (C) is our answer.

Quote:
(D) The baseline measurements of oxygen use taken for use in the subtractive method show that some regions of the brain have high metabolic activity at all times.

The passage explains that "baseline measurement is... subtracted from the on-task measurement" to give a differential reading. However, it does not give any specific information about what the baseline levels for any region of the brain actually are. For this reason, (D) is out.

Quote:
(E) When a brain scan subject experiences anger, the subtractive method shows several regions of the brain as "lit up" with metabolic activity.

Here is the piece of the passage relevant to answer choice (E):
Quote:
"It cannot be said, for instance, that the amygdala is the seat of emotion and the prefrontal cortex is the seat of reason, as the popular press sometimes claims. For when I get angry, I generally do so for a reason. To cleanly separate emotion from reason-giving makes a hash of human experience.

Here, the author argues that one cannot cleanly separate anger into one specific region of the brain, which seems to support the idea that "when a brain scan subject experiences anger, the subtractive method shows several regions of the brain as 'lit up,'" as expressed in (E).

However, the passage does not reveal how anger would actually appear on an fMRI readout. Maybe the result would support the author's contention, and maybe it would not. Because this information is not given, we cannot say that answer choice (E) is well supported by the passage.

This leaves us with (C) as the "most strongly supported" answer choice.

I hope that helps!
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Re: There are some basic conceptual problems hovering about the widespread   [#permalink] 11 Apr 2019, 10:01
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