Date: 11 Jun 2014

Neuroimaging and cognition using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

The present study utilized functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to detect neural activation differences in the orbitofrontal brain region between individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy controls (HCs) during a working memory (WM) task. Thirteen individuals with MS and 12 HCs underwent fNIRS recording while performing the n-back WM task with four levels of difficulty (0-, 1-, 2-, and 3-back). Subjects were fitted with the fNIRS cap consisting of 30 ‘optodes’ positioned over the forehead. The results revealed different patterns of brain activation in MS and HCs. The MS group showed an increase in brain activation, as measured by the concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin (oxyHb), in the left superior frontal gyrus (LSFG) at lower task difficulty levels (i.e. 1-back), followed by a decrease at higher task difficulty (2- and 3-back) as compared with the HC group. HC group achieved higher accuracy than the MS group on the lower task loads (i.e. 0- and 1-back), however there were no performance differences between the groups at the higher task loads (i.e. 2- and 3-back). Taken together, the results suggest that individuals with MS experience a task with the lower cognitive load as more difficult than the HC group, and the brain activation patterns observed during the task confirm some of the previous findings from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. This study is the first to investigate brain activation by utilizing the method of fNIRS in MS during the performance of a cognitive task.