Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is measured above the head, which makes it sensitive to variations of the head position with respect to the sensors. Head movements blur the topography of the neuronal sources of the MEG signal, increase localization errors, and reduce statistical sensitivity. Here we describe two novel and readily applicable methods that compensate for the detrimental effects of head motion on the statistical sensitivity of MEG experiments. First, we introduce an online procedure that continuously monitors head position. Second, we describe an offline analysis method that takes into account the head position time-series. We quantify the performance of these methods in the context of three different experimental settings, involving somatosensory, visual and auditory stimuli, assessing both individual and group-level statistics. The online head localization procedure allowed for optimal repositioning of the subjects over multiple sessions, resulting in a 28% reduction of the variance in dipole position and an improvement of up to 15% in statistical sensitivity. Offline incorporation of the head position time-series into the general linear model resulted in improvements of group-level statistical sensitivity between 15% and 29%. These tools can substantially reduce the influence of head movement within and between sessions, increasing the sensitivity of many cognitive neuroscience experiments.Highlights
▸ Head movements have detrimental effects on the statistical sensitivity of MEG data. ▸ Subjects get real-time feedback to reposition themselves in the MEG. ▸ Online repositioning keeps the head position consistent within and across sessions. ▸ Offline regression analysis removes trial-by-trial variance due to head movements. ▸ These tools are readily applicable to a wide range of tasks and experiments.