At the recent International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Annual Meeting, researchers from Purdue University presented a new technology capable of recording electroencephalography (EEG) signals from the brain while a patient is inside an MRI machine. This may cause a revolution for the study of the brain, as functional MRI (fMRI) and EEG could provide unique complimentary insights into the brain’s activity, but using them simultaneously at full fidelity has been impossible until now. Being able to visualize brain activity while monitoring electrical brain signals should help correlate the complex activities detected by these two modalities and help answer many questions about neurological disorders, their causes, and point to potential treatments.
The technology relies on a wireless device that is actually powered by the electromagnetic field of the MRI machine. As we understand it, it detects the magnetic resonances of the scanner and activates EEG recordings only during gaps between the magnetic pulses. Because physics prevents the EEG data from passing wired or wirelessly from inside the scanner, the device instead embeds this data in an encoded form within the MRI images.