Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 302–311 | Cite as

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

  • Jelena Stojanovic-Radic
  • Glenn WylieEmail author
  • Gerald Voelbel
  • Nancy Chiaravalloti
  • John DeLuca
Original Research


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.


Multiple sclerosis Working memory Near infrared spectroscopy 



This project was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Grant MB 0024 (JS-R) and by a grant from the NIH (1F32NS055509 to GV)

Conflict of Interest

Jelena Stojanovic-Radic, Glenn Wylie, Gerald Voelbel, Nancy Chiaravalloti, and John DeLuca report no conflicts of interest.

Informed Consent Statement

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, and the applicable revisions at the time of the investigation. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jelena Stojanovic-Radic
    • 1
    • 2
  • Glenn Wylie
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gerald Voelbel
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Nancy Chiaravalloti
    • 1
    • 2
  • John DeLuca
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Kessler FoundationNeuropsychology and Neuroscience LaboratoryWest OrangeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationRutgers University –New Jersey Medical SchoolNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosciencesRutgers University –New Jersey Medical SchoolNew BrunswickUSA
  4. 4.Department of Occupational Therapy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation MedicineNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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