Electromyography as a recording system for eyeblink conditioning with functional magnetic resonance imaging

M. G. Knuttinen, T. B. Parrish, C. Weiss, K. S. LaBar, D. R. Gitelman, J. M. Power, M. M. Mesulam, J. F. Disterhoft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This study was designed to develop a suitable method of recording eyeblink responses while conducting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Given the complexity of this behavioral setup outside of the magnet, this study sought to adapt and further optimize an approach to eyeblink conditioning that would be suitable for conducting event-related fMRI experiments. This method involved the acquisition of electromyographic (EMG) signals from the orbicularis oculi of the right eye, which were subsequently amplified and converted into an optical signal outside of the head coil. This optical signal was converted back into an electrical signal once outside the magnet room. Electromyography (EMG)-detected eye-blinks were used to measure responses in a delay eyeblink conditioning paradigm. Our results indicate that: (1) electromyography is a sensitive method for the detection of eyeblinks during fMRI; (2) minimal interactions or artifacts of the EMG signal were created from the magnetic resonance pulse sequence; and (3) no electromyography-related artifacts were detected in the magnetic resonance images. Furthermore, an analysis of the functional data showed areas of activation that have previously been shown in positron emission tomography studies of human eye-blink conditioning. Our results support the strength of this behavioral setup as a suitable method to be used in association with fMRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-987
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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