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Mouth magnetoencephalography: A unique perspective on the human hippocampus

Tierney, Tim M.; Levy, Andrew; Barry, Daniel N.; Meyer, Sofie S.; Shigihara, Yoshihito; Everatt, Matt; Mellor, Stephanie; Lopez, Jose David; Bestmann, Sven; Holmes, Niall; Roberts, Gillian; Hill, Ryan M; Boto, Elena; Leggett, James; Shah, Vishal; Brookes, Matthew J.; Bowtell, Richard; Maguire, Eleanor A.; Barnes, Gareth R.


Tim M. Tierney

Andrew Levy

Daniel N. Barry

Sofie S. Meyer

Yoshihito Shigihara

Matt Everatt

Stephanie Mellor

Jose David Lopez

Sven Bestmann

Gillian Roberts

Ryan M Hill

Vishal Shah

Eleanor A. Maguire

Gareth R. Barnes


Traditional magnetoencephalographic (MEG) brain imaging scanners consist of a rigid sensor array surrounding the head; this means that they are maximally sensitive to superficial brain structures. New technology based on optical pumping means that we can now consider more flexible and creative sensor placement. Here we explored the magnetic fields generated by a model of the human hippocampus not only across scalp but also at the roof of the mouth. We found that simulated hippocampal sources gave rise to dipolar field patterns with one scalp surface field extremum at the temporal lobe and a corresponding maximum or minimum at the roof of the mouth. We then constructed a fitted dental mould to accommodate an Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM). We collected data using a previously validated hippocampal-dependant task to test the empirical utility of a mouth-based sensor, with an accompanying array of left and right temporal lobe OPMs. We found that the mouth sensor showed the greatest task-related theta power change. We found that this sensor had a mild effect on the reconstructed power in the hippocampus (~10% change) but that coherence images between the mouth sensor and reconstructed source images showed a global maximum in the right hippocampus. We conclude that augmenting a scalp-based MEG array with sensors in the mouth shows unique promise for both basic scientists and clinicians interested in interrogating the hippocampus.


Tierney, T. M., Levy, A., Barry, D. N., Meyer, S. S., Shigihara, Y., Everatt, M., …Barnes, G. R. (2021). Mouth magnetoencephalography: A unique perspective on the human hippocampus. NeuroImage, 225, Article 117443.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 9, 2020
Online Publication Date Oct 12, 2020
Publication Date Jan 15, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 18, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 18, 2021
Journal NeuroImage
Print ISSN 1053-8119
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 225
Article Number 117443
Keywords Cognitive Neuroscience; Neurology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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