Stick It In Your Ear!

People's reports of inner mental processes are not considered to be reliable enough to validate theories.  (Some would say formulate, even.)  Such reports are only accepted in general, as when a medicine is reported by a patient to alleviate the pain of migraine.  Theories in psychology based on the detailed 'inner awareness' of phenomena are often dismissed as 'mentalese'.

It would be very useful to be able to look directly at the human brain's many operations and so discover if our 'mentalese' theories have any scientifically demonstrable validity.  Over the course of time, methods and instruments have evolved to test these theories by proxy.

There are very many theories in the cognitive sciences which depend for their validity on proof that the human brain divides tasks preferentially between its left and right hemispheres.  Whilst brain imaging techniques have advanced dramatically of recent years, availability and cost have restricted their application.

A new method has been devised to detect cerebral lateralisation.  Based on the observation that lateralisation produces lateral temperature differences, the method measures timpanic temperature differences. 

The taking of timpanic temperature is an established method of taking the temperatures of infants, so this would indicate a degree of reliability in the method.  There is some dispute about whether or not perspiration affects measurements.  Other dispute areas probably do not apply to the psychological testing of volunteers.

The tympanic temperature differential method could provide a cheap and reliable way of bringing physical measurement capabilities into the ordinary classroom.

"Tympanic membrane temperature, exposure to emotional stimuli and the sustained attention to response task ",  to be published in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology , Volume 31, Issue 5 July 2009.

"Should tympanic temperature measurement be trusted?", Anna Riddell and Walter Eppich, 19th February 2003,  Oxford Vaccine Group and Duke University Medical Center.  BestBETs