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J Biomed Opt. 2011 Jan-Feb;16(1):016008. doi: 10.1117/1.3533266.

Functional connectivity in the prefrontal cortex measured by near-infrared spectroscopy during ultrarapid object recognition.

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  • 1Georgetown University Medical Center, Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging, Washington, DC 20057, USA.


Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a developing technology for low-cost noninvasive functional brain imaging. With multichannel optical instruments, it becomes possible to measure not only local changes in hemoglobin concentrations but also temporal correlations of those changes in different brain regions which gives an optical analog of functional connectivity traditionally measured by fMRI. We recorded hemodynamic activity during the Go-NoGo task from 11 right-handed subjects with probes placed bilaterally over prefrontal areas. Subjects were detecting animals as targets in natural scenes pressing a mouse button. Data were low-pass filtered<1 Hz and cardiac∕respiration∕superficial layers artifacts were removed using Independent Component Analysis. Fisher's transformed correlations of poststimulus responses (30 s) were averaged over groups of channels unilaterally in each hemisphere (intrahemispheric connectivity) and the corresponding channels between hemispheres (interhemispheric connectivity). The hemodynamic response showed task-related activation (an increase∕decrease in oxygenated∕deoxygenated hemoglobin, respectively) greater in the right versus left hemisphere. Intra- and interhemispheric functional connectivity was also significantly stronger during the task compared to baseline. Functional connectivity between the inferior and the middle frontal regions was significantly stronger in the right hemisphere. Our results demonstrate that optical methods can be used to detect transient changes in functional connectivity during rapid cognitive processes.

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