Spatiotemporal mapping of brain activity by integration of multiple imaging modalities

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2001 Apr;11(2):202-8. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(00)00197-5.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography measure local changes in brain hemodynamics induced by cognitive or perceptual tasks. These measures have a uniformly high spatial resolution of millimeters or less, but poor temporal resolution (about 1s). Conversely, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) measure instantaneously the current flows induced by synaptic activity, but the accurate localization of these current flows based on EEG and MEG data alone remains an unsolved problem. Recently, techniques have been developed that, in the context of brain anatomy visualized with structural MRI, use both hemodynamic and electromagnetic measures to arrive at estimates of brain activation with high spatial and temporal resolution. These methods range from simple juxtaposition to simultaneous integrated techniques. Their application has already led to advances in our understanding of the neural bases of perception, attention, memory and language. Further advances in multi-modality integration will require an improved understanding of the coupling between the physiological phenomena underlying the different signal modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods
  • Perception / physiology
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods
  • Systems Integration*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods