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Psychophysiology. 2003 Jul;40(4):548-60.

Hemodynamic evoked response of the sensorimotor cortex measured noninvasively with near-infrared optical imaging.

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  • 1NMR Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


We have performed a noninvasive bilateral optical imaging study of the hemodynamic evoked response to unilateral finger opposition task, finger tactile, and electrical median nerve stimulation in the human sensorimotor cortex. This optical study shows the hemoglobin-evoked response to voluntary and nonvoluntary stimuli. We performed measurements on 10 healthy volunteers using block paradigms for motor, sensory, and electrical stimulations of the right and left hands separately. We analyzed the spatial/temporal features and the amplitude of the optical signal induced by cerebral activation during these three paradigms. We consistently found an increase (decrease) in the cerebral concentration of oxy-hemoglobin (deoxy-hemoglobin) at the cortical side contralateral to the stimulated side. We observed an optical response to activation that was larger in size and amplitude during voluntary motor task compared to the other two stimulations. The ipsilateral response was consistently smaller than the contralateral response, and even reversed (i.e., a decrease in oxy-hemoglobin, and an increase in deoxy-hemoglobin) in the case of the electrical stimulation. We observed a systemic contribution to the optical signal from the increase in the heart rate increase during stimulation, and we made a first attempt to subtract it from the evoked hemoglobin signal. Our findings based on optical imaging are in agreement with results in the literature obtained with positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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