fMRI-based validation of continuous-wave fNIRS of supplementary motor area activation during motor execution and motor imagery

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 4;12(1):3570. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-06519-7.


Compared to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has several advantages that make it particularly interesting for neurofeedback (NFB). A pre-requisite for NFB applications is that with fNIRS, signals from the brain region of interest can be measured. This study focused on the supplementary motor area (SMA). Healthy older participants (N = 16) completed separate continuous-wave (CW-) fNIRS and (f)MRI sessions. Data were collected for executed and imagined hand movements (motor imagery, MI), and for MI of whole body movements. Individual anatomical data were used to (i) define the regions of interest for fMRI analysis, to (ii) extract the fMRI BOLD response from the cortical regions corresponding to the fNIRS channels, and (iii) to select fNIRS channels. Concentration changes in oxygenated ([Formula: see text]) and deoxygenated ([Formula: see text]) hemoglobin were considered in the analyses. Results revealed subtle differences between the different MI tasks, indicating that for whole body MI movements as well as for MI of hand movements [Formula: see text] is the more specific signal. Selection of the fNIRS channel set based on individual anatomy did not improve the results. Overall, the study indicates that in terms of spatial specificity and task sensitivity SMA activation can be reliably measured with CW-fNIRS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Motor Cortex* / diagnostic imaging
  • Motor Cortex* / physiology
  • Neurofeedback* / physiology
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods