Direct detection of neural activity in vitro using magnetic resonance electrical impedance tomography (MREIT)

Rosalind Sadleir, Fanrui Fu, Corey Falgas, Stephen Holland, May Boggess, Samuel C. Grant, Eung Je Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


We describe a sequence of experiments performed in vitro to verify the existence of a new magnetic resonance imaging contrast — Magnetic Resonance Electrical Impedance Tomography (MREIT) —sensitive to changes in active membrane conductivity. We compared standard deviations in MREIT phase data from spontaneously active Aplysia abdominal ganglia in an artificial seawater background solution (ASW) with those found after treatment with an excitotoxic solution (KCl). We found significant increases in MREIT treatment cases, compared to control ganglia subject to extra ASW. This distinction was not found in phase images from the same ganglia using no imaging current. Further, significance and effect size depended on the amplitude of MREIT imaging current used. We conclude that our observations were linked to changes in cell conductivity caused by activity. Functional MREIT may have promise as a more direct method of functional neuroimaging than existing methods that image correlates of blood flow such as BOLD fMRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-119
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017



  • Action potential
  • Aplysia
  • fMRI
  • Microelectrode array
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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