Moving magnetoencephalography towards real-world applications with a wearable system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • Elena Boto
  • Niall Holmes
  • James Leggett
  • Gillian Roberts
  • Vishal Shah
  • Sofie S. Meyer
  • Leonardo Duque Muñoz
  • Tim M. Tierney
  • Sven Bestmann
  • Gareth R. Barnes
  • Richard Bowtell
  • Matthew J. Brookes

Abstract

Imaging human brain function with techniques such as magnetoencephalography1 (MEG) typically requires a subject to perform tasks whilst their head remains still within a restrictive scanner. This artificial environment makes the technique inaccessible to many people, and limits the experimental questions that can be addressed. For example, it has been difficult to apply neuroimaging to investigation of the neural substrates of cognitive development in babies and children, or in adult studies that require unconstrained head movement (e.g. spatial navigation). Here, we develop a new type of MEG system that can be worn like a helmet, allowing free and natural movement during scanning. This is possible due to the integration of new quantum sensors2,3 that do not rely on superconducting technology, with a novel system for nulling background magnetic fields. We demonstrate human electrophysiological measurement at millisecond resolution whilst subjects make natural movements, including head nodding, stretching, drinking and playing a ball game. Results compare well to the current state-of-the-art, even when subjects make large head movements. The system opens up new possibilities for scanning any subject or patient group, with myriad applications such as characterisation of the neurodevelopmental connectome, imaging subjects moving naturally in a virtual environment, and understanding the pathophysiology of movement disorders.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-661
JournalNature
Volume555
Early online date21 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2018