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J Biomed Opt. 2005 Jan-Feb;10(1):11010.

Using near-infrared spectroscopy to assess neural activation during object processing in infants.

Author information

  • 1Texas A&M University, Psychology Department, MS-4235 TAMU, College Station, Texas 77843, USA. tgw@psyc.tamu.edu

Abstract

The capacity to represent the world in terms of numerically distinct objects (i.e., object individuation) is a milestone in early cognitive development and forms the foundation for more complex thought and behavior. Over the past 10 to 15 yr, infant researchers have expended a great deal of effort to identify the origins and development of this capacity. In contrast, relatively little is known about the neural mechanisms that underlie the ability to individuate objects, in large part because there are a limited number of noninvasive techniques available to measure brain functioning in human infants. Recent research suggests that near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS), an optical imaging technique that uses relative changes in total hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation as an indicator of neural activation, may be a viable procedure for assessing the relation between object processing and brain function in human infants. We examine the extent to which increased neural activation, as measured by NIRS, could be observed in two neural areas known to be involved in object processing, the primary visual cortex and the inferior temporal cortex, during an object processing task. Infants aged 6.5 months are presented with a visual event in which two featurally distinct objects emerge successively to opposite sides of an occluder and neuroimaging data are collected. As predicted, increased neural activation is observed in both the primary visual and inferior cortex during the visual event, suggesting that these neural areas support object processing in the young infant. The outcome has important implications for research in cognitive development, developmental neuroscience, and optical imaging.

Copyright 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

PMID:
15847576
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1769348
Free PMC Article

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