Does photobiomodulation influence the resting-state brain networks in young human subjects?

Exp Brain Res. 2021 Feb;239(2):435-449. doi: 10.1007/s00221-020-05981-x. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we explored the effect of transcranial photobiomodulation on four major resting-state brain networks, namely the sensorimotor, salience, default mode and central executive networks, in normal young subjects. We used a vielight transcranial device (810 nm) and compared the scans in 20 subjects (mean age 30.0 ± 2.8 years) after active- and sham-photobiomodulation sessions. Four sets of analysis-independent components, network connectivity, infra-slow oscillatory power and arterial spin labelling-were undertaken. Our results showed that when comparing pre- with post-active and pre- with post-sham photobiomodulation scans, there were no substantial differences in activity across any of the four resting-state networks examined, indicating no clear photobiomodulation effect. When taken together with previous findings, we suggest that the impact of photobiomodulation becomes much clearer only after brain circuitry is altered, for example, after a neurone undergoes some change in its equilibrium or homeostasis, either during pathology or ageing, or during a change in functional activity when individuals are engaged in a specific task (e.g. evoked brain activity).

Keywords: 810 nm; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Resting-state brain networks; Transcranial.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways
  • Research Subjects