Reliability of fNIRS for noninvasive monitoring of brain function and emotion in sheep


The aim of this work was to critically assess if functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) can be profitably used as a tool for noninvasive recording of brain functions and emotions in sheep. We considered an experimental design including advances in instrumentation (customized wireless multi-distance fNIRS system), more accurate physical modelling (two-layer model for photon diffusion and 3D Monte Carlo simulations), support from neuroanatomical tools (positioning of the fNIRS probe by MRI and DTI data of the very same animals), and rigorous protocols (motor task, startling test) for testing the behavioral response of freely moving sheep. Almost no hemodynamic response was found in the extra-cerebral region in both the motor task and the startling test. In the motor task, as expected we found a canonical hemodynamic response in the cerebral region when sheep were walking. In the startling test, the measured hemodynamic response in the cerebral region was mainly from movement. Overall, these results indicate that with the current setup and probe positioning we are primarily measuring the motor area of the sheep brain, and not probing the too deeply located cortical areas related to processing of emotions.

Scientific Reports