MEG has a number of characteristics that make it especially attractive to applications in a clinical environment. High spatio-temporal resolution, paired with being mostly unaffected by different conductivities of tissues offer an almost undistorted view of functional brain activity. MEG has a distinct position among the wide spectrum of neuroimaging methods for the examination of patients due to is combined spatial and temporal resolution. MEG is clinically used to localize normal and abnormal activity prior to brain surgery.
Epilepsy is associated with pathological brain activity, which can be detected using MEG and EEG. Source analysis of pathological patterns detected by MEG allows the millimeter localization of the epileptic foci in generalized or multifocal epilepsy cases. This information is needed to determine and plan further diagnosis and therapy.
Furthermore, functional brain mapping of motor, sensor and language related areas is frequently performed prior to planning surgical strategy, e.g. in tumor and epilepsy surgery. This application addresses the question of whether surgery is even advisable as well as where and how it should be performed in light of the individual anatomy of essential functional areas.
Many applications for MEG to other areas of abnormal brain processing are being investigated in the hopes of providing many more clinical applications. Research in the area of psychiatry endeavors to address the diagnosis and scientific investigation of, depression and schizophrenia. The functional brain network (default mode network) is also being investigated. Research into the underlying mechanisms of Autism, Tinnitus, Alzheimer’s disease and many more are being vigorously pursued using MEG technology.
Clinical MEG research is an interdisciplinary effort and combines neurocognitive knowledge and clinical expertise. Thus, this section aims to introduce common applications, current problems, challenges and research and also address issues that are somewhat unique to the clinical context, such as reimbursement.