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MEG is a non-invasive neurophysiological technique that measures the magnetic fields generated by neuronal activity of the brain. The spatial distributions of the magnetic fields are analysed to localize the sources of the activity within the brain, and the locations of the sources are superimposed on anatomical images, such as MRI, to provide information about both the structure and function of the brain.


How does MEG work ?

MEG is based on the ability to detect very weak magnetic fields that originate from electrical activity within the brain. These signals are detected with an array of devices known as Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) that are placed close to the scalp.
SQUIDs can detect tiny magnetic signals, much less than one-billionth the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, and then convert these into recordable electric voltages. The SQUID array is mounted in a close-fitting helmet and is cooled with liquid helium. Neuronal signals may be events lasting from about a millisecond for an action potential, tens to hundreds of milliseconds for postsynaptic potentials or even multiple seconds for modulation of brain rhythms.

What is MEG used for ?

Common clinical applications include Detection of Epileptic Activity and Presurgical Functional Mapping. Researchers continue to use MEG to provide new insights into the neural basis of developmental disorders such as autism and dyslexia, as well as psychiatric diseases including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease are also increasingly studied.
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