Coupled oxygenation oscillation measured by NIRS and intermittent cerebral activation on EEG in premature infants

Neuroimage. 2007 Jul 1;36(3):718-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


Electroencephalography of premature neonates shows a physiological discontinuity of electrical activity during quiet sleep. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) shows spontaneous oscillations of hemoglobin oxygenation and volume. Similar oscillations are visible in term neonates and adults, with NIRS and other functional imaging techniques (fMRI, Doppler, etc.), but are generally thought to result from vasomotion and to be a physiological artifact of limited interest. The origin and possible relationship to neuronal activity of the baseline changes in the NIRS signal have not been established. We carried out simultaneous EEG-NIRS recordings on six healthy premature neonates and four premature neonates presenting neurological distress, to determine whether changes in the concentration of cerebral oxy- and deoxy- and total hemoglobin were related to the occurrence of spontaneous bursts of cerebral electric activity. Bursts of electroencephalographic activity in neonates during quiet sleep were found to be coupled to a transient stereotyped hemodynamic response involving a decrease in oxy-hemoglobin concentration, sometimes beginning a few seconds before the onset of electroencephalographic activity, followed by an increase, and then a return to baseline. This pattern could be either part of the baseline oscillations or superimposed changes to this baseline, influencing its shape and phase. The temporal patterns of NIRS parameters present an unique configuration, and tend to be different between our healthy and pathological subjects. Studies of physiological activities and of the effects of intrinsic regulation on the NIRS signal should increase our understanding of these patterns and EEG-NIRS studies should facilitate the integration of NIRS into the set of clinical tools used in neurology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / blood
  • Nervous System Diseases / congenital
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxygen