The oxygenation response to functional stimulation: is there a physiological meaning to the lag between parameters?

Neuroimage. 2007 May 15;36(1):100-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.01.045. Epub 2007 Feb 13.


To investigate the regulation of the hemodynamic response to functional stimulation, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has been used, due to its ability to assess the dynamics of oxygenated, deoxygenated and total hemoglobin concentration ([oxy-Hb], [deoxy-Hb] and [tot-Hb]). Concerning the latency of these parameters, recent studies have returned a consistent picture when comparing the oxygenation response in the sensorimotor to the visual system: changes in [oxy-Hb] lead those in [deoxy-Hb] by 1.6+/-0.2 s (mean+/-SD) for the sensorimotor system but not for the visual system (0.1+/-0.3 s). A number of physiological differences between these cortical areas may account for such a discrepancy, however, the methodological properties of transcranial NIRS also have a relevant influence. Here we show that for the motor system the latency between changes in oxy- compared to deoxy-Hb vanishes once efforts are made to reduce the effects of a systemic response accompanying sensorimotor activity. We apply two independent approaches to reduce the systemic response and find a simultaneous change in [oxy-Hb] and [deoxy-Hb] even in response to a motor paradigm. The two approaches are: (i) an experimental paradigm with alternating contralateral and ipsilateral motor performance without interspersed rest periods designed to minimize systemic changes and (ii) a global correction scheme in an experiment, comparing a unilateral motor performance to rest. These data shed some doubt on the alleged fundamental physiological difference between cortical hemodynamic regulation in motor and visual cortex and highlight the relevance to respect contributions of the systemic hemodynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand / innervation*
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / blood supply
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxyhemoglobins
  • deoxyhemoglobin