Clinical MEG Service

We are the Clinical MEG Service under the Fetal-Neonatal Neuroimaging & Developmental Science Center (FNNDSC), Division of Newborn Medicine, directed by Dr. Ellen Grant, at Boston Children’s Hospital. Our pediatric MEG system is at the forefront of MEG technologies and was one of the first systems designed specifically for children approximately 0 to 4 years of age. The facility itself is ideally located across from the NICU to provide ease of access for patients, while bringing together researchers and clinicians to promote an integrated approach to developing technologies and caring for patients.

MEG helps us to learn more about brain functions during early infancy in healthy children. Information gained from MEG recordings can allow us to help patients with neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, and Down syndrome.

Our team works very closely with the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, directed by Dr. Phillip Pearl. As part of our clinical service, we see patients with seizure disorders as part of their presurgical evaluation. Our analyses aim to localize the brain areas that are responsible for epileptogenic activity.

What is magnetoencephalography (MEG)?

Magnetoencephalography, or MEG, is a noninvasive neuroimaging technique designed to measure brain activity via magnetic fields. MEG measures the change in these magnetic fields to provide an indirect measure of the strength and location of brain activity.

Why is MEG necessary?

MEG helps us to learn more about brain functions during early infancy in healthy children. Information gained from MEG recordings can allow us to help patients with neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, and Down syndrome.

Does MEG have any risks?

There are no reports of injuries or harm to patients who have had MEG. MEG is silent and non-invasive. It does not produce any magnetic fields and does not involve any ionizing radiations.

The magnetic signals generated by brain activity are very small compared to those from the earth and electrical machines. The MEG scanner is placed in a magnetically shielded room (MSR), which isolates the outside environmental noise.

MEG is very sensitive to metal. Metal inside the MSR can affect the quality of the brain signal recorded by MEG. Your child may not be able to have a scan if he/she is wearing dental braces that cannot be removed, has metal implants, a pacemaker, a stent, a shunt, and/or aneurysm clips.

Your child will be asked to remove, if possible, any metal objects that he/she has: glasses, jewelry, hair pins, removable dental braces, hearing aid.

Innovations in epilepsy surgery

Some forms of epilepsy can’t be treated with drugs and will eventually need surgery. To improve surgical outcomes, researchers at Boston Children’s are developing methods to localize the brain’s “epileptogenic zone” non-invasively. Using non-invasive techniques like scalp EEG and MEG, researchers are implementing novel computer-aided methods to locate the epileptogenic focus in the children’s brain by investigating:  

  • very fast activity (high-frequency oscillations) that is spontaneously generated in between seizures
  • how different brain regions interact with each other (functional connectivity) to unravel pathological alterations in the brain network that are responsible for generating seizures