Development and application of magnetoencephalographic methods in the investigation of the human visual system
This thesis is an exploration of the organisation and functioning of the human visual system using the non-invasive functional imaging modality magnetoencephalography (MEG). Chapters one and two provide an introduction to the ‘human visual system and magnetoencephalographic methodologies. These chapters subsequently describe the methods by which MEG can be used to measure neuronal activity from the visual cortex. Chapter three describes the development and implementation of novel analytical tools; including beamforming based analyses, spectrographic movies and an optimisation of group imaging methods. Chapter four focuses on the use of established and contemporary analytical tools in the investigation of visual function. This is initiated with an investigation of visually evoked and induced responses; covering visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and event related synchronisation/desynchronisation (ERS/ERD). Chapter five describes the employment of novel methods in the investigation of cortical contrast response and demonstrates distinct contrast response functions in striate and extra-striate regions of visual cortex. Chapter six use synthetic aperture magnetometry (SAM) to investigate the phenomena of visual cortical gamma oscillations in response to various visual stimuli; concluding that pattern is central to its generation and that it increases in amplitude linearly as a function of stimulus contrast, consistent with results from invasive electrode studies in the macaque monkey. Chapter seven describes the use of driven visual stimuli and tuned SAM methods in a pilot study of retinotopic mapping using MEG; finding that activity in the primary visual cortex can be distinguished in four quadrants and two eccentricities of the visual field. Chapter eight is a novel implementation of the SAM beamforming method in the investigation of a subject with migraine visual aura; the method reveals desynchronisation of the alpha and gamma frequency bands in occipital and temporal regions contralateral to observed visual abnormalities. The final chapter is a summary of main conclusions and suggested further work.