KIT-Macquarie Brain Research (MEG) Laboratory
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive technique for measuring and visualising the working human brain. It uses highly sensitive detectors that measure the magnetic signals naturally produced by the human brain and body. By acting like a sensitive microphone for brain signals, it allows researchers to investigate processes of the mind – whether they be sensations and perceptions, language, cognition, and emotions.
The KIT-Macquarie Brain Research (MEG) Laboratory in the result of a collaboration between Macquarie University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan. The laboratory currently manages three MEG systems, a 160-channel system for adults, a 128-channel system customised for pre-school children, and a prototype 32-channel system developed for those with hearing aid devices, including cochlear implants. To reduce external magnetic noise such as the Earth’s magnetic field, the adult and child MEG systems are both 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 Hearing MEG system is housed in a second separate MSR.
Helium Recovery System
For the MEG to function, liquid helium is needed to cool the sensors that record the tiny signals generated by the brain. The sensors must be cooled to an extremely low temperature, which requires them to be bathed in significant amounts of liquid helium. Helium is a non-renewable resource and at the current rate of use could potentially run out in the coming decades. In collaboration with CSIRO, the Department of Cognitive Science developed a helium recovery system to recover the helium gas that boils off during MEG operation and converts the gas back into liquid helium, enabling over 80% of spent helium to be recycled.
Both the Child and Adult systems use Epson EB-G7400U projectors that allow for resolutions up to 1920x1200 and contrast up to 2000:1 to be projected with a brightness of 5500 Lumens.
Speakers and Earphones
Auditory stimuli can be delivered by a Panphonics SoundShower speaker or by a set 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.
Simulator and Playroom
The lab includes 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.
To allow for concurrent measurement and validation of brain signals and other responses, the KIT-Macquarie Brain Research (MEG) Laboratory offers further recording equipment that can be used simultaneously during MEG recording sessions.
We currently use a Brain Products 63 channel battery operated MEG-compatible EEG system, with 63 channel Fast 'n' Easy EEG caps from EASYCAP. While EEG and MEG are primarily sensitive to electrical signals generated by the brain, each method sees a slightly different aspect of the brain’s underlying activity. Concurrent recordings of EEG-MEG can therefore generate a more complete picture of how the brains works.
We have BrainProducts MEG-compatible polygraphic system with eight channels that measure muscle activity (Electromyogram; EMG) and another eight polygraphic channels that measure skin conductance response and respiration.
We have an Eyelink 1000 remote MEG-compatible eye-tracker system. Used in conjunction with MEG, eye-tracking provides an objective measure of someone’s focus of visual attention during a particular task.
Researchers involved in projects using these facilities:
Conducting a study with MEG
All projects to be conducted using one of the MEG systems are considered by the MEG Executive Committee and applications are provided with feedback on their proposed project.
For enquries about the MEG facilities please contact the MEG Executive Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).