A brief review on the history of human functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) development and fields of application

Neuroimage. 2012 Nov 1;63(2):921-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.03.049. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


This review is aimed at celebrating the upcoming 20th anniversary of the birth of human functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). After the discovery in 1992 that the functional activation of the human cerebral cortex (due to oxygenation and hemodynamic changes) can be explored by NIRS, human functional brain mapping research has gained a new dimension. fNIRS or optical topography, or near-infrared imaging or diffuse optical imaging is used mainly to detect simultaneous changes in optical properties of the human cortex from multiple measurement sites and displays the results in the form of a map or image over a specific area. In order to place current fNIRS research in its proper context, this paper presents a brief historical overview of the events that have shaped the present status of fNIRS. In particular, technological progresses of fNIRS are highlighted (i.e., from single-site to multi-site functional cortical measurements (images)), introduction of the commercial multi-channel systems, recent commercial wireless instrumentation and more advanced prototypes.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / history*