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On the potential of a new generation of magnetometers for MEG: a beamformer simulation study

Boto, Elena; Bowtell, Richard W.; Kruger, Peter; Fromhold, T. Mark; Morris, Peter G.; Meyer, Sofie S.; Barnes, Gareth R.; Brookes, Matthew J.

Authors

Elena Boto elena.boto@nottingham.ac.uk

Richard W. Bowtell richard.bowtell@nottingham.ac.uk

PETER KRUGER peter.kruger@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Experimental Cold Atom Physics

T. Mark Fromhold mark.fromhold@nottingham.ac.uk

Peter G. Morris peter.morris@nottingham.ac.uk

Sofie S. Meyer sofie.meyer.10@ucl.ac.uk

Gareth R. Barnes g.barnes@ucl.ac.uk

Matthew J. Brookes matthew.brookes@nottingham.ac.uk



Abstract

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a sophisticated tool which yields rich information on the spatial, spectral and temporal signatures of human brain function. Despite unique potential, MEG is limited by a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) which is caused by both the inherently small magnetic fields generated by the brain, and the scalp-to-sensor distance. The latter is limited in current systems due to a requirement for pickup coils to be cryogenically cooled. Recent work suggests that optically-pumped magnetometers (OPMs) might be a viable alternative to superconducting detectors for MEG measurement. They have the advantage that sensors can be brought to within ~4 mm of the scalp, thus offering increased sensitivity. Here, using simulations, we quantify the advantages of hypothetical OPM systems in terms of sensitivity, reconstruction accuracy and spatial resolution. Our results show that a multi-channel whole-head OPM system offers (on average) a fivefold improvement in sensitivity for an adult brain, as well as clear improvements in reconstruction accuracy and spatial resolution. However, we also show that such improvements depend critically on accurate forward models; indeed, the reconstruction accuracy of our simulated OPM system only outperformed that of a simulated superconducting system in cases where forward field error was less than 5%. Overall, our results imply that the realisation of a viable whole-head multi-channel OPM system could generate a step change in the utility of MEG as a means to assess brain electrophysiological activity in health and disease. However in practice, this will require both improved hardware and modelling algorithms.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 26, 2016
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 8
Article Number e0157655
APA6 Citation Boto, E., Bowtell, R. W., Kruger, P., Fromhold, T. M., Morris, P. G., Meyer, S. S., …Brookes, M. J. (2016). On the potential of a new generation of magnetometers for MEG: a beamformer simulation study. PLoS ONE, 11(8), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157655
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157655
Publisher URL http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0157655
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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