Me, Myself and MRI

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The portraits will have photographs to show the physical person and MRI scans to show their brain, but we also need to communicate to the viewer the other aspects of each person. First of all we need to find these things out ourselves. Taking what we have discovered in the previous sections, let's try and develop some questions that we can ask our participants.

Remember, although we will interview each person using these questions, we may phrase them in different ways or put them in a different order to make the interview flow more easily. How we ask questions can be as important as the actual questions. It is necessary to put a person at ease before they will start revealing the details of their lives that we may be interested in.

Task - Watch this clip of Michael Parkinson interviewing Meg Ryan on his BBC chat show. Notice the body language and terse answers to questions. Discuss why this might be.

Task - In groups come up with 5 questions that you might ask to help find out about someone else. Try them out on each other and try writing them in different ways. For example the question 'Who are you?', could illicit a very short answer from one person and a very long one from someone else. Try questions that might reveal things about people in a round about way. An example might be 'do you have a favourite book or author?'.

Come back together as a group and hear the questions. Try them out on the staff, pupils and anyone else who might be around. In our case this included the head of year and another science teacher. Shortlist down to ten questions.

More about the interview process

Although the school group developed the list of questions to ask (see pdf, top right), the actual interview process was slightly more complex. Each person was interviewed in a studio to help capture the best acoustics. Unfortunately this meant an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation for most. The inclusion of the video camera and various microphones made everyone even more self concious.

The interviewer had to try and make the interviewee as relaxed as possible; to ignore the cameras and recording devices; and to move away from pre-prepared answers. Each interview lasted for approximately an hour.

The podcast below gives further detail on this process.