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Background: The spinal cord and its interactions with the brain are fundamental for movement control and somatosensation. However, brain and spinal electrophysiology in humans have largely been treated as distinct enterprises, in part due to the relative inaccessibility of the spinal cord. Consequently, there is a dearth of knowledge on human spinal electrophysiology, including the multiple pathologies that affect the spinal cord as well as the brain. New method: Here we exploit recent advances in the development of wearable optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) which can be flexibly arranged to provide coverage of both the spinal cord and the brain in relatively unconstrained environments. This system for magnetospinoencephalography (MSEG) measures both spinal and cortical signals simultaneously by employing custom-made scanning casts. Results: We evidence the utility of such a system by recording spinal and cortical evoked responses to median nerve stimulation at the wrist. MSEG revealed early (10 – 15 ms) and late (>20 ms) responses at the spinal cord, in addition to typical cortical evoked responses (i.e., N20). Comparison with existing methods: Early spinal evoked responses detected were in line with conventional somatosensory evoked potential recordings. Conclusion: This MSEG system demonstrates the novel ability for concurrent non-invasive millisecond imaging of brain and spinal cord.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Neuroscience Methods

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