I had the great pleasure last week of being inserted into a powerful toroidal magnet for science. Some charming psychologists asked me (me!) to be part of a control group having their brains studied while making decisions. Apparently the non-control group were ‘business leaders’. Do they make decisions in a different way to the rest of us? I don’t really care, which is fine because it’s not my experiment. All I cared about were the words, ‘It’s on PhD funding so we can’t pay you anything, but you can have some photos of your brain’. Who would say no to that?
So I was denuded of anything vaguely metal, laid down on the gurney, had my head clamped and wedged in place, and rolled into the little mouth of the Seimens Magnetom Trio fMRI scanner. I then picked playing cards for an hour. I almost fell asleep (it’s surprisingly soothing/boring in there). I was then let go.
As I stumbled out of the machine room I asked my experimenter whether the most basic of facts had been confirmed: was there a brain in there. (I hadn’t expected there not to be, but you never know.) She said I did have a brain. She said I had quite a large brain. She went on to describe it as, and I quote, ‘Chunky’. Chunky!
Ladies and gentleman, it has been official proved by a real scientist: I have a fat brain.
I had hoped there might be one part of me that was still slim, streamlined and gorgeous after all these years, but it seems the inside is just as fat as the outside now. If only I’d done more brain exercise early on. But, heigh ho.
(I was in a Brewers Fayre [sic] on Monday night, next to a Premier Inn where I was staying between Book Week visits to Northern primary schools, and I noticed that my cutlery was stuck together… magnetically. I thought for a moment my fMRI adventure might have given me Sir Ian McKellen-like powers of magnetic mastery, but upon further trial and inspection nothing else stuck together. I think I just got two attractive bits of cutlery, like you sometimes do.)
Here’s a piece of new and unnecessary music to take my mind off it all.
Did You Pack Your Own Luggage?