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Brain Topogr. 1991 Winter;4(2):95-103.

EEG versus MEG localization accuracy: theory and experiment.

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  • 1Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute Technology, Cambridge 02139.


We first review the theoretical and computer modelling studies concerning localization accuracy of EEG and MEG, both separately and together; the source is here a dipole. The results show that, of the three causes of localization errors, noise and head modelling errors have about the same effect on EEG and MEG localization accuracies, while the results for measurement placement errors are inconclusive. Thus, these results to date show no significant superiority of MEG over EEG localization accuracy. Secondly, we review the experimental findings, where there are again localization accuracy studies of EEG and MEG both separately and together. The most significant EEG-only study was due to dipoles implanted in the heads of patients, and produced an average localization error of 20 mm. Various MEG-only studies gave an average error of 2-3 mm in saline spheres and 4-8 mm in saline-filled skulls. In the one study where EEG and MEG localization were directly compared in the same actual head, again using dipoles implanted in patients, the average EEG and MEG errors of localization were 10 and 8 mm respectively. The MEG error was later confirmed by a similar (but MEG-only) experiment in another study, using a more elaborate MEG system. In summary, both theory and experiment suggests that the MEG offers no significant advantage over the EEG in the task of localizing a dipole source. The main use of the MEG, therefore, should be based on the proven feature that the MEG signal from a radial source is highly suppressed, allowing it to complement the EEG in selecting between competing source configurations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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