On the suitability of near-infrared (NIR) systems for next-generation brain-computer interfaces.
Near infrared optical topography (OT) is the measurement of hemoglobin absorption simultaneously from an array of optical fibers on the scalp to construct maps of cortical activity. We demonstrate that OT can be used to simultaneously detect and characterize the hemodynamic responses associated with an "oddball" auditory stimulus and that corresponding electrical event related potentials can be acquired simultaneously using conventional scalp recordings. In addition to the measured electrical response, the hemodynamic localization is consistent with fMRI studies, which show significant activation in the temporal and parietal cortical regions. The event-related response of total hemoglobin showed relatively slow peak latencies (5.8 +/- 0.3 s), which were also consistent with fMRI. The current study shows the regions of peak hemodynamic activity that are in closest proximity to areas of peak electrical activity. This is the first demonstration of simultaneous ERP electrical recording and non-invasive optical mapping in human subjects, which promises to be an important tool in the characterization of both normal and abnormal brain function.