Simultaneous Recording of VEP and fMRI to Study Optic Neuritis in Multiple Sclerosis

M.N. Anwar, L. Bonzano, D. Rossi-Sebastiano, L. Roccatagliata, G. Gualniera, P. Vitali, V. Sanguineti, P. Morasso, and F. Bandini (Italy)


Visual Evoked Potentials (VEPs), Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Electroencephalography (EEG), Optic Neuritis (ON)


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system and causes gradual destruction of myelin. Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis, ON) is a common symptom at the onset of MS. Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) have been widely used as diagnostic tools for ON as they can detect the malfunctioning of visual pathways. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has also been used to identify impaired visual brain function in ON patients. As VEPs and fMRI have complementary features (high temporal resolution and high spatial resolution, respectively), the integration of simultaneously recorded VEP and fMRI might provide more detailed information on the cortical representation of the visual stimulus, thus improving the diagnosis of ON. In this work, we present a method for simultaneous acquisition of EEG signals and fMRI. More specifically, we show that reliable VEPs can be obtained during fMRI acquisition and, conversely, sequences of MR images of good quality can be obtained in presence of EEG electrodes in the MRI bore. On the basis of these preliminary results, we suggest that the simultaneous recording of VEP and fMRI is feasible and can be used in studying ON.

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