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Gait Posture. 2012 Mar;35(3):367-72. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.10.007. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) of brain function during active balancing using a video game system.

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University of Pittsburgh, Department of Radiology, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a portable, non-invasive, brain imaging technology that uses low levels of non-ionizing light to record changes in cerebral blood flow in the brain through optical sensors placed on the surface of the scalp. These signals are recorded via flexible fiber optic cables, which allow neuroimaging experiments to be conducted on participants while performing tasks such as standing or walking. FNIRS has the potential to provide new insights into the evolution of brain activation during ambulatory motor learning tasks and standing tasks to probe balance and vestibular function. In this study, a 32 channel fNIRS system was used to record blood flow changes in the frontal, motor, sensory, and temporal cortices during active balancing associated with playing a video game simulating downhill skiing (Nintendo Wii™; Wii-fit™). Using fNIRS, we found activation of superior temporal gyrus, which was modulated by the difficulty of the balance task. This region had been previously implicated in vestibular function from other animal and human studies.

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