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The Role of Magnetoencephalography (MEG) in Cognitive Neuroscience


By Ferda Mehmet, student intern of CHASS College Computing

The first colloquium at UCR about Magnetoencephalography (MEG) was held on Thursday March 20, 2003 in the Life Sciences Psychology building from 4-5:30 PM. Professor Patricia Pardo from the Brain Services Center at the University of Minnesota gave a brief talk which paved the way for a forty-minute animated discussion where faculty and graduate students compared methodologies and talked of their limitations.

The talk was a tutorial on the uses of MEG in experiments dealing with monitoring events in the brain to the nearest millisecond. Pardo discussed memory retrieval, language comprehension, and the application of MEG to cognitive research in these areas. MEG's advantage over fMRI's is that it records millisecond accuracy in brain response whereas the optimal is about a second with fMRI, a very long time in cognitive terms. Schizophrenia was briefly mentioned in the talk as well, and the research approach using MEG will hopefully look at memory problems associated with Schizophrenia compared to healthy individuals.

There were roughly twenty-five people who attended the colloquium. Most faculty and graduate students came from the areas of Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, although some also came from areas of Computer Science and Social Psychology. The colloquium instilled awareness of the distinctions of different ways to map cognitive activity in the brain. It also served for creating interest, knowledge, and awareness about MEG. Associate Professor and Director of the Computational Cognition Lab Curt Burgess said, "An event like this is important to have at UCR because it exposes graduates and undergraduates to new technology and provides the basis for research collaboration as well." Professors Burgess and Pardo plan on collaborating on research utilizing computational memory modeling in understanding normal and disordered thought using MEG to record brain activity.



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