Date Published:2010 Dec
Neuronal currents produce local electromagnetic fields that can potentially modulate the phase of the magnetic resonance signal and thus provide a contrast mechanism tightly linked to neuronal activity. Previous work has demonstrated the feasibility of direct MRI of neuronal activity in phantoms and cell culture, but in vivo efforts have yielded inconclusive, conflicting results. The likelihood of detecting and validating such signals can be increased with (i) fast gradient-echo echo-planar imaging, with acquisition rates sufficient to resolve neuronal activity, (ii) subjects with epilepsy, who frequently experience stereotypical electromagnetic discharges between seizures, expressed as brief, localized, high-amplitude spikes (interictal discharges), and (iii) concurrent electroencephalography. This work demonstrates that both MR magnitude and phase show large-amplitude changes concurrent with electroencephalography spikes. We found a temporal derivative relationship between MR phase and scalp electroencephalography, suggesting that the MR phase changes may be tightly linked to local cerebral activity. We refer to this manner of MR acquisition, designed explicitly to track the electroencephalography, as encephalographic MRI (eMRI). Potential extension of this technique into a general purpose functional neuroimaging tool requires further study of the MR signal changes accompanying lower amplitude neuronal activity than those discussed here.