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Department of Cognitive Science

KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory

Researchers with MEG acquisition systemsWelcome to the KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory! Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique for measuring and visualizing the working human brain. MEG measurements allow us to study how the brain is able to produce the contents and processes of the mind - sensations and perceptions, language, cognitions, and emotions. It also allows us to study how these mental processes may be disrupted when the brain fails to function normally.

Importantly, MEG measures brain activity in a way that has no effect on the brain or the body. The MEG instrument works using highly sensitive detectors that measure the magnetic signals naturally produced by the human brain and body. It works like a very sensitive microphone, which is a device that detects sounds but does not produce sounds or signals of its own. Since the MEG gives off no signal or field of any kind, it cannot possibly cause any harm.

Since MEG is completely safe it is uniquely suitable for routine study of human brain function in adults and children. The KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory is currently the only MEG facility in the Southern Hemisphere and has both an adult MEG system and a second system customized for pre-school children. Additionally, we have a prototype system developed for use with hearing aid devices, including cochlear implants.

We carry out research on human brain function in (1) normal adults; (2) adults with neurological or psychiatric disorders; (3) normally developing children; (4) children with developmental disorders.

Child in MEG System

Magnetoencephalography: measuring brain activity with magnetism

Learn about MEG through this visual explanation of magnetoencephalography (MEG), a neuroimaging technique used to measure brain activity. Produced by Alt Shift X in collaboration with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) with special thanks to Dr Paul Sowman.

Child in MEG System

Measurement of Neuromagnetic Brain Function In Pre-school Children With Custom Sized MEG

Using the first child MEG system in the world, researchers from the Department of Cognitive Science and CLaS have developed an innovative experimental protocol to study cognitive and language processes in healthy, awake children.

Child in MEG System

 

Collaborations

The MEG laboratory is the KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Lab, in recognition of the collaboration between Macquarie University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan. KIT and Yokogawa Electric Corporation have generously assisted us in designing a state-of-the-art presentation and analysis system for MEG-related studies using auditory and visual stimulus materials, and integrating data analysis from MEG with those from EEG, fMRI and eye-movement recording.

With Macquarie University's partner hearing organisations, including The HearingCRC and Cochlear Limited, we have a third MEG system to assist in the rehabilitation of young children who receive cochlear implants. Recipients of a cochlear implant receive extensive rehabilitation to recognize the sounds of speech. Hearing is assessed by asking the cochlear implant recipient to report their subjective impressions of sounds. This is a difficult and frustrating process for adults, and children younger than 3 or 4 cannot perform this feat at all. Yet cochlear implants are being fitted to babies as young as 3 months old. To overcome these difficulties, we have developing the world's first measurement system using MEG to provide objective measures of how recipients of a cochlear implant, including very young children, hear the sounds of speech.

An international collaboration between the Macquarie University and Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is studying the question: Do pre-school children learning different languages know universal properties of language? To answer this,  researchers from these two universities have tested 4 year old English and Mandarin speaking children using MEG. BLCU is currently establishing their own MEG facility, with an adult and a child system, in collaboration with KIT.