Optically-pumped magnetometers (OPMs) offer the potential for a step change in magnetoencephalography (MEG) enabling wearable systems that: provide improved data quality; accommodate any subject group; allow data capture during movement and offer a reduction in costs. However, OPM-MEG is still a nascent technology and, to realise its potential, it must be shown to facilitate key neuroscientific measurements, such as the characterisation of human brain networks. Networks, and the connectivities that underlie them, have become a core area of neuroscientific investigation, and their importance is underscored by many demonstrations of their perturbation in brain disorders. Consequently, a demonstration of network measurements via OPM-MEG would be a significant step forward. Here, we aimed to show that a wearable 50-channel OPM-MEG system enables characterisation of the electrophysiological connectome. To this end, we characterise connectivity in the resting state and during a simple visuo-motor task, using both OPM-MEG and a state-of-the-art 275-channel cryogenic MEG device. Our results show that connectome matrices from OPM and cryogenic systems exhibit an extremely high degree of similarity, with correlation values >70 %. This value is not measurably different to the correlation observed between connectomes measured in different subject groups, on a single scanner. In addition, similar differences in connectivity between individuals (scanned multiple times) were observed in cryogenic and OPM-MEG data, again demonstrating the fidelity of OPM-MEG data. This demonstration shows that a nascent OPM-MEG system offers results similar to a cryogenic device, even despite having ~5 times fewer sensors. This adds weight to the argument that OPMs will ultimately supersede cryogenic sensors for MEG measurement.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience