Multimodal assessment of the spatial correspondence between fNIRS and fMRI hemodynamic responses in motor tasks

João Pereira, Bruno Direito, Michael Lührs, Miguel Castelo-Branco*, Teresa Sousa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) provides a cost-efficient and portable alternative to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) for assessing cortical activity changes based on hemodynamic signals. The spatial and temporal underpinnings of the fMRI blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal and corresponding fNIRS concentration of oxygenated (HbO), deoxygenated (HbR), and total hemoglobin (HbT) measurements are still not completely clear. We aim to analyze the spatial correspondence between these hemodynamic signals, in motor-network regions. To this end, we acquired asynchronous fMRI and fNIRS recordings from 9 healthy participants while performing motor imagery and execution. Using this multimodal approach, we investigated the ability to identify motor-related activation clusters in fMRI data using subject-specific fNIRS-based cortical signals as predictors of interest. Group-level activation was found in fMRI data modeled from corresponding fNIRS measurements, with significant peak activation found overlapping the individually-defined primary and premotor motor cortices, for all chromophores. No statistically significant differences were observed in multimodal spatial correspondence between HbO, HbR, and HbT, for both tasks. This suggests the possibility of translating neuronal information from fMRI into an fNIRS motor-coverage setup with high spatial correspondence using both oxy and deoxyhemoglobin data, with the inherent benefits of translating fMRI paradigms to fNIRS in cognitive and clinical neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2244
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023


  • Brain Mapping/methods
  • Hemodynamics/physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Motor Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared/methods
  • Brain
  • Networks
  • Activation
  • Neuronal-activity
  • Nirs-fmri
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Real
  • Connectivity
  • Bold signal


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