Studying Brain Function in Children Using Magnetoencephalography

Hannah Rapaport, Robert A. Seymour, Paul F. Sowman, Nick Benikos, Elisabeth Stylianou, Blake W. Johnson, Stephen Crain, Wei He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique which directly measures magnetic fields produced by the electrical activity of the human brain. MEG is quiet and less likely to induce claustrophobia compared with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It is therefore a promising tool for investigating brain function in young children. However, analysis of MEG data from pediatric populations is often complicated by head movement artefacts which arise as a consequence of the requirement for a spatially-fixed sensor array that is not affixed to the child's head. Minimizing head movements during MEG sessions can be particularly challenging as young children are often unable to remain still during experimental tasks. The protocol presented here aims to reduce head movement artefacts during pediatric MEG scanning. Prior to visiting the MEG laboratory, families are provided with resources that explain the MEG system and the experimental procedures in simple, accessible language. An MEG familiarization session is conducted during which children are acquainted with both the researchers and the MEG procedures. They are then trained to keep their head still whilst lying inside an MEG simulator. To help children feel at ease in the novel MEG environment, all of the procedures are explained through the narrative of a space mission. To minimize head movement due to restlessness, children are trained and assessed using fun and engaging experimental paradigms. In addition, children's residual head movement artefacts are compensated for during the data acquisition session using a real-time head movement tracking system. Implementing these child-friendly procedures is important for improving data quality, minimizing participant attrition rates in longitudinal studies, and ensuring that families have a positive research experience.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58909
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number146
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


  • Brain development
  • Brain function
  • Children
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Head movement
  • Issue 146
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Mock scanner
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroscience


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