UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


First application of novel wearable magnetic field sensor technology

Supervisors: Professor Torsten Baldeweg, Professor Gareth Barnes, Dr Friederike Moeller

First application of novel wearable magnetic field sensor technology for presurgical cognitive mapping in children

Children with medication-resistant focal onset epilepsy stand to benefit the most from epilepsy surgery (1), yet the planning of this surgery can be very challenging because conventional neuroimaging of these children is severely compromised by cooperation and movement. The recent development of a novel technology on the basis of miniaturised sensors – optically pumped magnetometers (OPMEG) - has opened up new avenues for human neuroimaging (2) (Fig.1). This project will evaluate a new generation of wearable brain scanners suitable for children. This motion-resistant technology will overcome some of the major limitations in brain scanning of young children, in particular by providing an unconstrained environment. In close collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospital we wish to evaluate the new OPMEG system for non-invasive mapping of essential language (3) (Fig. 1C) and motor functions in children with medication-resistant epilepsy enrolled in one of the largest epilepsy surgery programmes in the world.

1. Show validity of OPMEG language and motor mapping in children undergoing pre-surgical evaluation: We wish to recruit 20 children with focal epilepsy enrolled in the epilepsy surgery programme at GOSH.
2. We also aim to recruit a cohort of typically developing children (aged 4-16 years) to obtain reference data over this wide developmental range and to evaluate the emergence of typical language lateralisation from a young age onwards.


brain images

The project will use next generation OPMEG sensors installed at the UCL Welcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging and will utilise novel child-friendly stimulation tasks suitable for young children developed for clinical use at GOSH.


timeline image

1.            Skirrow C, Cross JH, et al. Determinants of IQ outcome after focal epilepsy surgery in childhood: A longitudinal case-control neuroimaging study. Epilepsia. 2019 2019 May;60(5):872-884.
2.            Boto et al. Moving magnetoencephalography towards real-world applications with a wearable system. Nature 555, 657–661 (2018).
3.            Tierney et al. Cognitive neuroscience using wearable magnetometer arrays: Non-invasive assessment of language function. Neuroimage 181, 513–520 (2018).