Diffuse optical imaging of brain activation to joint attention experience

Behav Brain Res. 2009 Aug 24;202(1):32-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.03.029. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


In the early development of social cognition and language, infants tend to participate in face-to-face interactions engaging in joint attention exchanges. Joint attention is vital to social competence at all ages, lacking which is a primary feature to distinguish autistic from non-autistic population. In this study, diffuse optical imaging is used for the first time to investigate the joint attention experience in normal adults. Imaging studies were performed in the frontal regions of the brain (BA9 and BA10) in order to study the differences in the brain activation in response to video clips corresponding to joint attention based skills. The frontal regions of the brain were non-invasively imaged using a novel optical cap coupled to a frequency-domain optical imaging system. The statistical analysis from 11 normal adult subjects, with three repetitions from each subject, indicated that the averaged changes in the cerebral blood oxygenation levels were different under the joint and non-joint attention based stimulus. The preliminary studies demonstrate the feasibility of implementing diffuse optical imaging towards autism-related research to study the brain activation in response to socio-communication skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Blood / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Social Perception*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen