Brain Topography

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 998–1012 | Cite as

Applications of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Fatigue, Sleep Deprivation, and Social Cognition

  • Yafeng Pan
  • Guillermo Borragán
  • Philippe PeigneuxEmail author


Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an optical diffusion technique that allows the non-invasive imaging of cortical activity. During the last two decades, rapid technical and methodological advances have made fNIRS a powerful tool to investigate the cerebral correlates of human performance and cognitive functions, including fatigue, sleep deprivation and social cognition. Despite intrinsic limitations such as restricted brain depth and spatial resolution, its applicability, low cost, ecological validity, and tolerance to movements make fNIRS advantageous for scientific research and clinical applications. It can be viewed as a valid and promising brain imaging approach to investigate applied societal problems (e.g., safety, children development, sport science) and complement other neuroimaging techniques. The intrinsic power of fNIRS measurements for the study of social cognition is magnified when applied to the hyperscanning paradigm (i.e., measuring activity in two or more brains simultaneously). Besides consolidating existing findings, future fNIRS research should focus on methodological advances (e.g., artefacts correction, connectivity approaches) and standardization of analysis pipelines, and expand currently used paradigms in more naturalistic but controlled settings.


Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) Fatigue Sleep deprivation Social cognition Hyperscanning fNIRS application 



Support was provided by the China Scholarship Council (201706140082) to Y.P.

Author Contributions

YP, GB, and PP wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no actual or potential conflicts of interest concerning this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuropsychology and Functional Neuroimaging Research Unit (UR2NF) at CRCN—Center for Research in Cognition and Neurosciences and UNI–ULB Neurosciences InstituteUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Cognitive ScienceEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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