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Pediatr Neurol. 2002 Oct;27(4):275-81.

Regional cerebral blood flow changes associated with emotions in children.

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Department of Integrated Neuroscience, Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, Tokyo, Japan.


Combining a wireless telemetry system and a portable near-infrared instrument, we developed a movable optical spectroscopy system for monitoring cerebral hemodynamic changes. The patient carries a miniaturized near-infrared spectroscopy instrument on the back, and data are sent by a wireless telemetry system to a computer, without restricting patient movement. We used this system to detect hemodynamic changes associated with being startled, anticipation, and pleasant and unpleasant emotions in the bilateral prefrontal cortices of 16 right-handed 4- to 6-year-old preschool children while they were watching a 21-minute video clip consisting of various scenes that elicited emotional responses, interpolated with neutral scenes for comparison. The children were relaxed and cooperative when they were studied. Anticipation was associated with increases in cerebral blood flow in the left prefrontal cortex of the 6-year-old children, and unpleasant emotion was associated with decreases in cerebral blood flow bilaterally compared with neutral emotion, irrespective of age. No hemodynamic changes associated with the startle response were observed. Although this study should be considered preliminary, it is suggested that the emotional response is age-dependent and that the left prefrontal cortex participates in anticipation. Our newly developed system will open a window into brain physiology in children.

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