Neural Substrates for Hand and Shoulder Movement in Healthy Adults: A Functional near Infrared Spectroscopy Study


Characterization of cortical activation patterns during movements in healthy adults may help our understanding of how the injured brain works. Upper limb motor tasks are commonly used to assess impaired motor function and to predict recovery in individuals with neurological disorders such as stroke. This study aimed to explore cortical activation patterns associated with movements of the hand and shoulder using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and to demonstrate the potential of this technology to distinguish cerebral activation between distal and proximal movements. Twenty healthy, right-handed participants were recruited. Two 10-s motor tasks (right-hand opening-closing and right shoulder abduction-adduction) were performed in a sitting position at a rate of 0.5 Hz in a block paradigm. We measured the variations in oxyhemoglobin (HbO2) and deoxyhemoglobin (HbR) concentrations. fNIRS was performed with a 24-channel system (Brite 24®; Artinis) that covered most motor control brain regions bilaterally. Activation was mostly contralateral for both hand and shoulder movements. Activation was more lateral for hand movements and more medial for shoulder movements, as predicted by the classical homunculus representation. Both HbO2 and HbR concentrations varied with the activity. Our results showed that fNIRS can distinguish patterns of cortical activity in upper limb movements under ecological conditions. These results suggest that fNIRS can be used to measure spontaneous motor recovery and rehabilitation-induced recovery after brain injury. The trial was restropectively registered on January 20, 2023: NCT05691777 (

Brain Topography