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Cheyne Lab

Cheyne Lab

Animated movie showing different areas of the brain

My research at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) involves the use of a relatively new neuroimaging technique , Magnetoencephalography (MEG), to study  the underlying neural mechanisms of human brain activity in health and disease. 

MEG offers a novel approach for studying brain activity in humans by measuring small magnetic signals produced by the electrical activity of the brain from outside of the head, providing a millisecond by millisecond measurement of neural activity, which we can localize to specific brain regions with high spatial precision. 

Over the last several years, my lab has been developing new mathematical techniques for mapping spatiotemporal patterns of cortical activity involved in rapid processing of sensory input, or the sequence of neural commands involved in generating movement or speech. This information can also be combined with structural MRI scans to identify the specific brain structures involved in various cognitive and motor tasks and more importantly, the precise temporal sequence in which they are activated. This provides a powerful, yet highly non-invasive method with which we can map sensory, motor and cognitive function in adults and children. 

More recently, we have begun to use these techniques to examine brain processes related to sustained attention and automatization of our movements or actions and how these processes may differ in individuals with cognitive deficits or developmental disorders. I also work closely with members of the divisions of neurology and neurosurgery at SickKids to apply these techniques to the diagnosis of abnormal brain activity in childhood epilepsy and the localization of functional cortical areas prior to surgery. 

Shown on the left is a time-lapse movie of images of cortical activity derived from MEG recordings and superimposed on the subject's MRI, showing sequential activation of their right motor and somatosensory cortex during a movement of their left index finger.  Images were calculated every 5 milliseconds, from 300 milliseconds preceding to 300 milliseconds following the onset of the movement, using source reconstruction software developed in our lab. This demonstrates the rapid unfolding of neural activity during a single movement that cannot be captured with other neuroimaging techniques.

For more information please visit Dr. Cheyne's external lab site.