KIT-Macquarie Brain Research (MEG) Lab
KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique for measuring and visualizing the working human brain. MEG measurements allow us to study how the brain is able to produce the contents and processes of the mind - sensations and perceptions, language, cognitions, and emotions. It also allows us to study how these mental processes may be disrupted when the brain fails to function normally.
Importantly, MEG measures brain activity in a way that has no effect on the brain or the body. The MEG instrument works using highly sensitive detectors that measure the magnetic signals naturally produced by the human brain and body. It works like a very sensitive microphone, which is a device that detects sounds but does not produce sounds or signals of its own. Since the MEG gives off no signal or field of any kind, it's not known to cause any harm.
Since MEG is completely safe it is uniquely suitable for routine study of human brain function in adults and children. The KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory is currently the only MEG facility in the Southern Hemisphere and has both an adult MEG system and a second system customized for pre-school children. Additionally, we have a prototype system developed for use with hearing aid devices, including cochlear implants.
We carry out research on human brain function in (1) normal adults; (2) adults with neurological or psychiatric disorders; (3) normally developing children; (4) children with developmental disorders.
The MEG laboratory is the KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Lab, in recognition of the collaboration between Macquarie University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan. KIT and Yokogawa Electric Corporation have generously assisted us in designing a state-of-the-art presentation and analysis system for MEG-related studies using auditory and visual stimulus materials, and integrating data analysis from MEG with those from EEG, fMRI and eye-movement recording.
With Macquarie University's partner hearing organisations, including The HearingCRC and Cochlear Limited, we have a third MEG system to assist in the rehabilitation of young children who receive cochlear implants. Recipients of a cochlear implant receive extensive rehabilitation to recognize the sounds of speech. Hearing is assessed by asking the cochlear implant recipient to report their subjective impressions of sounds. This is a difficult and frustrating process for adults, and children younger than 3 or 4 cannot perform this feat at all. Yet cochlear implants are being fitted to babies as young as 3 months old. To overcome these difficulties, we have developed the world's first measurement system using MEG to provide objective measures of how recipients of a cochlear implant, including very young children, hear the sounds of speech.
An international collaboration between the Macquarie University and Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is studying the question: Do pre-school children learning different languages know universal properties of language? To answer this, researchers from these two universities have tested 4 year old English and Mandarin speaking children using MEG. BLCU is currently establishing their own MEG facility, with an adult and a child system, in collaboration with KIT.
The Department of Cognitive Science currently manages three MEG systems, a 160 channel system for adults, a 108 channel system for children, and a system designed for patients with cochlear implants or hearing devices.
Our adult and child MEG systems are housed in a magnetically shielded room or MSR. It consists of three layers of permalloy (an alloy of iron and zinc), and one layer of copper. The room frame is made of aluminium. The Hearing MEG system is housed in a second MSR. These MSRs were built by Japanese specialist companies: Fuhijira Co. Ltd and Ohtama Co. Ltd. With the addition of the KIT child MEG system, this lab was the first in the world to house two MEG systems inside the same magnetically shielded room. Since moving to the Australian Hearing Hub in 2013, the lab now houses three custom built MEG systems.
KIT/Macquarie MEG160 MEG System (Adult)
In 2006, we installed a 160-channel MEG system, funded by an ARC Linkage-Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant.
H. Kado, M. Higuchi, M. Shimogawara, Y. Haruta, Y. Adachi, J. Kawai, H. Ogata, G. Uehera. (1999) Magnetoencephalogram systems developed at KIT.IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, Vol 9 (2), 4057-4062.
KIT/Macquarie 128-Channel MEG System (Child)
In 2008, we installed an 80-channel MEG system, specially designed by Kanazawa Institute of Technology AEL and Yokogawa to work with children funded by an ARC Linkage Industrial Partner Grant. In 2013, KIT upgraded the system and added 48 additional channels. In 2014, we installed a Real Time Head Movement System (ReTHM), so that errors from head movements can be cancelled out.
KIT/Macquarie Hearing MEG System
In 2013, we installed a custom built MEG system, specially designed by AEL to investigate brain function in patients with cochlear impants and hearing devices. This was funded in collboration with Macquarie University, and The HEARing CRC, including Cochlear Limited.
Helium Recovery System
In 2013, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, in collaboration with CSIRO, installed a helium recovery system. This project developed a system to recover the helium gas that boils off during MEG operation, and converts the gas back into liquid helium. This project received funding from the New South Wales Science Leveraging Fund, along with funding for the CCD from Macquarie University.
We currently use a Brain Products 63 channel MEG-compatible EEG system, with MEG-compatible 63 channel Fast 'n' Easy EEG caps from EASYCAP.
We have BrainProducts MEG-compatible polygraphic system with eight channels of EMG and eight polygraphic channels (GSR, respiration, etc.).
We have an Eyelink 1000 remote MEG-compatible eyetracker system.
An InFocus IN5108 projector allows resolutions of up to 1600 x 1200 to be projected at a vertical sync rate of up to 120Hz, with a brightness of 4000 Lumens. This unit also allows for the adjustment of both vertical and horizontal keystoning.
Auditory stimuli are delivered by a set of Etymotics E30 earphones. We also have a tubephone system custom designed by National Acoustics Laboratory for language research with a frequency response greater than 9 kHz. (Raicevich, G, Burwood, E, Dillon, H, Johnson, B, Crain, S (2010). Wide band pneumatic sound system for MEG. Proceedings of 20th International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2010, Sydney, Australia, 23-27 August 2010.)
Simulator and Playroom
We have a MEG simulator room and dedicated playroom for our child participants and any siblings that may come along on the day. This room is also available for parents to use while waiting for their child to finish testing.
MEG Executive Committee
- Dr Paul Sowman, Chair
- Dr Jon Brock
- Associate Professor Blake Johnson
- Professor Stephen Crain / Dr Lisa Yen, CCD Representative
- Dr Wei He
- Dr Stan Tarnavskii, Senior Scientific Advisor
- Elisabeth Magdas, Technical Officer MEG
For any questions regarding MEG, contact our Technical Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org.