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Int J Psychophysiol. 2009 Jul;73(1):43-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.12.019. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Combining fMRI with EEG and MEG in order to relate patterns of brain activity to cognition.

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  • 1Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, University of California MC 3206, Berkeley CA 94720 USA. dfreeman@berkeley.edu


The common factor that underlies several types of functional brain imaging is the electric current of masses of dendrites. The prodigious demands for the energy that is required to drive the dendritic currents are met by hemodynamic and metabolic responses that are visualized with fMRI and PET techniques. The high current densities in parallel dendritic shafts and the broad distributions of the loop currents outside the dendrites generate both the scalp EEG and the magnetic fields seen in the MEG. The measurements of image intensities and potential fields provide state variables for modeling. The relationships between the intensities of current density and the electric, magnetic, and hemodynamic state variables are complex and far from proportionate. The state variables are complementary, because the information they convey comes from differing albeit overlapping neural populations, so that efforts to cross-validate localization of neural activity relating to specified cognitive behaviors have not always been successful. We propose an alternative way to use the three methods in combination through studies of hemisphere-wide, high-resolution spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity recorded non-invasively and analyzed with multivariate statistics. Success in this proposed endeavor requires specification of what patterns to look for. At the present level of understanding, an appropriate pattern is any significant departure from random noise in the spectral, temporal and spatial domains that can be scaled into the coarse-graining of time by fMRI/BOLD and the coarse-graining of space by EEG and MEG. Here the requisite patterns are predicted to be large-scale spatial amplitude modulation (AM) of synchronized neuronal signals in the beta and gamma ranges that are coordinated but not correlated with fMRI intensities.

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