The goals of our Brain Research Unit are to address human brain functions at systems level, mainly by applying and developing noninvasive brain imaging technologies. We also design and construct stimulation and monitoring devices to create as natural as possible environments for experimentation on systems neuroscience.
Within this framework, we have continued to study functions of the human cerebral cortex by measuring magnetic fields from outside of the head. This magnetoencephalographic (MEG) method allows a totally non-invasive view into healthy and diseased human brains during different tasks and conditions. Our 306-channel neuromagnetometer (Vectorview, Neuromag Ltd), functional since 1998, houses 204 gradiometers and 102 magnetometers with a whole-scalp coverage. To combine functional and structural information, we typically integrate MEG data with the subject's magnetic resonance images (MRIs). Between year 1994 and 2003, an important part of the research was done in collaboration with European scientists visiting the laboratory through the Neuro-BIRCH (Biomagnetic Research Center in Helsinki) Large-Scale Facility, financed by the European Union. The third funding period of the Large-Scale Facility (Neuro-BIRCH III) ended in September 2003. During the whole duration of the EU Neuro-BIRCH facility we offered expertise and equipment for state-of-the art neuromagnetic recordings for over 140 scientists from 50 different user groups from 15 countries, for altogether 20 person years.
In 2003, we worked extensively on magnetoencephalographic characterization of human sensory, motor, and cognitive functions, with work on brain disorders as well. We have also started to intensively use the new Advanced Magnetic Imaging (AMI) Centre of HUT for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); fMRI with its excellent spatial resolution complements the superb temporal resolution of MEG in tracking activation patterns and sequences in the human brain. The AMI Centre operates a 3 Tesla MRI/fMRI superconducting magnet (General Electric 3T Signa) for whole-body imaging, and with our 548 magnet hours we were the largest single user of the Centre in 2003.