Neurovascular coupling in the developing neonatal brain at rest

Hum Brain Mapp. 2020 Feb 1;41(2):503-519. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24818. Epub 2019 Oct 10.


The neonatal brain is an extremely dynamic organization undergoing essential development in terms of connectivity and function. Several functional imaging investigations of the developing brain have found neurovascular coupling (NVC) patterns that contrast with those observed in adults. These discrepancies are partly due to that NVC is still developing in the neonatal brain. To characterize the vascular response to spontaneous neuronal activations, a multiscale multimodal noninvasive approach combining simultaneous electrical, hemodynamic, and metabolic recordings has been developed for preterm infants. Our results demonstrate that the immature vascular network does not adopt a unique strategy to respond to spontaneous cortical activations. NVC takes on different forms in the same preterm infant during the same recording session in response to very similar types of neural activation. This includes (a) positive stereotyped hemodynamic responses (increases in HbO, decreases in HbR together with increases in rCBF and rCMRO2), (b) negative hemodynamic responses (increases in HbR, decreases in HbO together with decreases in rCBF and rCMRO2), and (c) Increases and decreases in both HbO-HbR and rCMRO2 together with no changes in rCBF. Age-related NVC maturation is demonstrated in preterm infants, which can contribute to a better understanding/prevention of cerebral hemodynamic risks in these infants.

Keywords: diffuse correlation spectroscopy; electroencephalography; near-infrared spectroscopy; premature neurovascular coupling; resting state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Neuroimaging / instrumentation
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Neurovascular Coupling / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared