Magnetic localization of neuronal activity in the human brain. Academic Article uri icon


  • The performance of a cryogenic system that monitors the extracranial magnetic field simultaneously at 14 positions over the scalp has been evaluated to determine the accuracy with which neuronal activity can be located within the human brain. Initially, measurements were implemented on two model systems, a lucite sphere filled with saline and a model skull. With a magnetic field strength similar to that of a human brain, the measurement and analysis procedures demonstrated a position accuracy better than 3 mm, for a current dipole 3 cm beneath the surface. Subsequently, measurements of the magnetic field pattern appearing 100 ms after the onset of an auditory tone-burst stimulus were obtained in three human subjects. The location of the current dipole representing intracellular ionic current in active neurons of the brain was determined, with 3-mm accuracy, to be within the cortex forming the floor of the Sylvian fissure of the individual subjects, corresponding closely to the Heschl gyrus as determined from magnetic resonance images. With the sensors placed at appropriate positions, the locations of neuronal sources for different tone frequencies could be obtained without moving the recording instrument. Adaptation of activity in human auditory cortex was shown to reveal long-term features with a paradigm that compared response amplitudes for three tones randomly presented.

publication date

  • November 1988