An empirical investigation of motion effects in eMRI of interictal epileptiform spikes


Sundaram P, Mulkern RV, Wells WM, Triantafyllou C, Loddenkemper T, Bubrick EJ, Orbach DB. An empirical investigation of motion effects in eMRI of interictal epileptiform spikes. Magn Reson Imaging. 2011;29 (10) :1401-9.

Date Published:

2011 Dec


We recently developed a functional neuroimaging technique called encephalographic magnetic resonance imaging (eMRI). Our method acquires rapid single-shot gradient-echo echo-planar MRI (repetition time=47 ms); it attempts to measure an MR signal more directly linked to neuronal electromagnetic activity than existing methods. To increase the likelihood of detecting such an MR signal, we recorded concurrent MRI and scalp electroencephalography (EEG) during fast (20-200 ms), localized, high-amplitude (>50 μV on EEG) cortical discharges in a cohort of focal epilepsy patients. Seen on EEG as interictal spikes, these discharges occur in between seizures and induced easily detectable MR magnitude and phase changes concurrent with the spikes with a lag of milliseconds to tens of milliseconds. Due to the time scale of the responses, localized changes in blood flow or hemoglobin oxygenation are unlikely to cause the MR signal changes that we observed. While the precise underlying mechanisms are unclear, in this study, we empirically investigate one potentially important confounding variable - motion. Head motion in the scanner affects both EEG and MR recording. It can produce brief "spike-like" artifacts on EEG and induce large MR signal changes similar to our interictal spike-related signal changes. In order to explore the possibility that interictal spikes were associated with head motions (although such an association had never been reported), we had previously tracked head position in epilepsy patients during interictal spikes and explicitly demonstrated a lack of associated head motion. However, that study was performed outside the MR scanner, and the root-mean-square error in the head position measurement was 0.7 mm. The large inaccuracy in this measurement therefore did not definitively rule out motion as a possible signal generator. In this study, we instructed healthy subjects to make deliberate brief (<500 ms) head motions inside the MR scanner and imaged these head motions with concurrent EEG and MRI. We compared these artifactual MR and EEG data to genuine interictal spikes. While per-voxel MR and per-electrode EEG time courses for the motion case can mimic the corresponding time courses associated with a genuine interictal spike, head motion can be unambiguously differentiated from interictal spikes via scalp EEG potential maps. Motion induces widespread changes in scalp potential, whereas interictal spikes are localized and have a regional fall-off in amplitude. These findings make bulk head motion an unlikely generator of the large spike-related MR signal changes that we had observed. Further work is required to precisely identify the underlying mechanisms.
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