A Chiral fNIRS Spotlight on Cerebellar Activation in a Finger Tapping Task


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has been so far the golden standard to study the functional aspects of the cerebellum. In this paper, a low-cost alternative imaging, i.e. functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is demonstrated to achieve successful measurements of the cerebellar hemodynamics towards the challenging observation of motor and cognitive processes at the cerebellar level. The excitation and reception optodes need to be properly placed to circumvent a major hindering from the shielding by the neck muscles. A simple experimental protocol, i.e. finger tapping task, was implemented to observe the subject’s engagement and the presence of functional asymmetries. Marked differences among subjects with different levels of lateralization were clearly noticed in terms of activation and latencies, together with peaks in the hemodynamic response following neural activation. These preliminary results suggest also differences in the hemodynamic behavior between the brain and the cerebellum and encourage future and extended analysis in this direction.Clinical Relevance-This establishes the possibility to use a novel technique (fNIRS) to study cerebellar hemodynamics instead of fMRI.

2021 43rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (EMBC)