Magnetoencephalography: technical improvements in image co-registration and studies of visual cortical oscillations
The work presented in this thesis is divided into two distinct sections. In the first, the functional neuroimaging technique of Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is described and a new technique is introduced for accurate combination of MEG and MRI co-ordinate systems. In the second part of this thesis, MEG and the analysis technique of SAM are used to investigate responses of the visual system in the context of functional specialisation within the visual cortex. In chapter one, the sources of MEG signals are described, followed by a brief description of the necessary instrumentation for accurate MEG recordings. This chapter is concluded by introducing the forward and inverse problems of MEG, techniques to solve the inverse problem, and a comparison of MEG with other neuroimaging techniques. Chapter two provides an important contribution to the field of research with MEG. Firstly, it is described how MEG and MRI co-ordinate systems are combined for localisation and visualisation of activated brain regions. A previously used co-registration methods is then described, and a new technique is introduced. In a series of experiments, it is demonstrated that using fixed fiducial points provides a considerable improvement in the accuracy and reliability of co-registration. Chapter three introduces the visual system starting from the retina and ending with the higher visual rates. The functions of the magnocellular and the parvocellular pathways are described and it is shown how the parallel visual pathways remain segregated throughout the visual system. The structural and functional organisation of the visual cortex is then described. Chapter four presents strong evidence in favour of the link between conscious experience and synchronised brain activity. The spatiotemporal responses of the visual cortex are measured in response to specific gratings. It is shown that stimuli that induce visual discomfort and visual illusions share their physical properties with those that induce highly synchronised gamma frequency oscillations in the primary visual cortex.