The MEG Shows Areas of the Brain "Talking" to Each Other

Neuroimaging the brain with a MEG can show, in real time, how damage to the brain can interrupt, slow, or stop communication from one part of the brain to other parts.

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The MEG is magnetoencephalography system, and that looks at the actual firing of the axons, so, the wiring of the brain. But, it looks at the firing of the neurons. The neurons do the thinking, and the axons just connect the neurons together. And, you can actually see in real time where you'll process a signal in 1 area of the brain, and then send a signal to another area of the brain and then maybe to a 3rd area of the brain. So, in other words, you've got to see an image— say if you're trying to do a memory task— you'e got to see the task, you've got to process the task, and then you've got to store it in memory. So, you see 3 different areas fire almost in real time. And, that's a very unique thing. The MRI is much slower—it relies upon blood flow, but the MEG is a very quick instrument where we can actually see the areas talk to each other. And, you can see how these areas could be disrupted. Any one of these axons, any one of these areas of wiring could be damaged from traumatic brain injury and stop that, or interrupt it, or slow it down so that when you used to be able to process a memory task very quickly, before your traumatic brain injury, now that area of wiring is damaged, so you might still be able to do it, but you do it on a slower time scale.
Posted on BrainLine September 28, 2012.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Brian King, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.