Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive optical technique for detecting brain activity, which has been previously used during motor and motor executive tasks. There is an increasing interest in using fNIRS as a brain computer interface (BCI) for patients who lack the physical, but not the mental, ability to respond to commands. The goal of this study is to assess the feasibility of time-resolved fNIRS to detect brain activity during motor imagery. Stability tests were conducted to ensure the temporal stability of the signal, and motor imagery data were acquired on healthy subjects. The NIRS probes were placed on the scalp over the premotor cortex (PMC) and supplementary motor area (SMA), as these areas are responsible for motion planning. To confirm the fNIRS results, subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing the same task. Seven subjects have participated to date, and significant activation in the SMA and/or the PMC during motor imagery was detected by both fMRI and fNIRS in 4 of the 7 subjects. No activation was detected by either technique in the remaining three participants, which was not unexpected due to the nature of the task. The agreement between the two imaging modalities highlights the potential of fNIRS as a BCI, which could be adapted for bedside studies of patients with disorders of consciousness.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/keith-stlawrence/1/