Near Infrared Spectroscopy Laboratory


David Boas, Director

Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and imaging uses near infrared light between 650 and 950 nm to non-invasively probe the concentration and oxygenation of hemoglobin in the brain, muscle and other tissues and is used e.g. to detect changes induced by brain activity, injury, or disease. In brain research it complements functional MRI by providing measures of both oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentrations and by enabling studies in populations of subjects with experimental paradigms that are not amenable to fMRI.

For a more detailed description of the technique see: Boas, D. and Franceschini, M.A. (2009). "Near-infrared imaging." Scholarpedia 4(4): 6997.

Click here to go to the The Optics Division at the Martinos Center



Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Using Functional NIRS

Susan Carey, Principal Investigator
Elizabeth Spelke, Principal Investigator
Daniel Hyde, Post-doctoral Fellow

We use NIRS to study the functional brain response of infants in a variety of domains from numerical cognition to social inference.  The overarching goal of these projects is to discover the foundational cognitive resources present from early infancy. 

Measurements require infants to wear a custom made hat containing light emitters and detectors.  Infants can sit in the lap of a parent or caregiver as visual and/or auditory stimuli are presented on a screen. Typical experiments last no more than 10 minutes.