Developing customized NIRS-EEG for infant sleep research: methodological considerations


Significance: Studies using simultaneous functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-electroencephalography (EEG) during natural sleep in infancy are rare. Developments for combined fNIRS-EEG for sleep research that ensure optimal comfort as well as good coupling and data quality are needed. Aim We describe the steps toward developing a comfortable, wearable NIRS-EEG headgear adapted specifically for sleeping infants ages 5 to 9 months and present the experimental procedures and data quality to conduct infant sleep research using combined fNIRS-EEG. Approach: N = 49 5- to 9-month-old infants participated. In phase 1, N = 26 (10 = slept) participated using the non-wearable version of the NIRS-EEG headgear with 13-channel-wearable EEG and 39-channel fiber-based NIRS. In phase 2, N = 23 infants (21 = slept) participated with the wireless version of the headgear with 20-channel-wearable EEG and 47-channel wearable NIRS. We used QT-NIRS to assess the NIRS data quality based on the good time window percentage, included channels, nap duration, and valid EEG percentage. Results: The infant nap rate during phase 1 was ∼40 % (45% valid EEG data) and increased to 90% during phase 2 (100% valid EEG data). Infants slept significantly longer with the wearable system than the non-wearable system. However, there were more included good channels based on QT-NIRS in study phase 1 (61%) than phase 2 (50%), though this difference was not statistically significant. Conclusions: We demonstrated the usability of an integrated NIRS-EEG headgear during natural infant sleep with both non-wearable and wearable NIRS systems. The wearable NIRS-EEG headgear represents a good compromise between data quality, opportunities of applications (home visits and toddlers), and experiment success (infants’ comfort, longer sleep duration, and opportunities for caregiver–child interaction).