An analysis framework for the integration of broadband NIRS and EEG to assess neurovascular and neurometabolic coupling

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 17;11(1):3977. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83420-9.


With the rapid growth of optical-based neuroimaging to explore human brain functioning, our research group has been developing broadband Near Infrared Spectroscopy (bNIRS) instruments, a technological extension to functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). bNIRS has the unique capacity of monitoring brain haemodynamics/oxygenation (measuring oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin), and metabolism (measuring the changes in the redox state of cytochrome-c-oxidase). When combined with electroencephalography (EEG), bNIRS provides a unique neuromonitoring platform to explore neurovascular coupling mechanisms. In this paper, we present a novel pipeline for the integrated analysis of bNIRS and EEG signals, and demonstrate its use on multi-channel bNIRS data recorded with concurrent EEG on healthy adults during a visual stimulation task. We introduce the use of the Finite Impulse Response functions within the General Linear Model for bNIRS and show its feasibility to statistically localize the haemodynamic and metabolic activity in the occipital cortex. Moreover, our results suggest that the fusion of haemodynamic and metabolic measures unveils additional information on brain functioning over haemodynamic imaging alone. The cross-correlation-based analysis of interrelationships between electrical (EEG) and haemodynamic/metabolic (bNIRS) activity revealed that the bNIRS metabolic signal offers a unique marker of brain activity, being more closely coupled to the neuronal EEG response.