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Journal of Biomedical Optics

Using near-infrared spectroscopy to assess neural activation during object processing in infants
Author(s): Teresa Wilcox; Heather Bortfeld; Rebecca Woods; Eric Wruck; David A. Boas
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Paper Abstract

The capacity to represent the world in terms of numerically distinct objects (i.e., object individuation) is a milestone in early cognitive development and forms the foundation for more complex thought and behavior. Over the past 10 to 15 yr, infant researchers have expended a great deal of effort to identify the origins and development of this capacity. In contrast, relatively little is known about the neural mechanisms that underlie the ability to individuate objects, in large part because there are a limited number of noninvasive techniques available to measure brain functioning in human infants. Recent research suggests that near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS), an optical imaging technique that uses relative changes in total hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation as an indicator of neural activation, may be a viable procedure for assessing the relation between object processing and brain function in human infants. We examine the extent to which increased neural activation, as measured by NIRS, could be observed in two neural areas known to be involved in object processing, the primary visual cortex and the inferior temporal cortex, during an object processing task. Infants aged 6.5 months are presented with a visual event in which two featurally distinct objects emerge successively to opposite sides of an occluder and neuroimaging data are collected. As predicted, increased neural activation is observed in both the primary visual and inferior cortex during the visual event, suggesting that these neural areas support object processing in the young infant. The outcome has important implications for research in cognitive development, developmental neuroscience, and optical imaging.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 January 2005
PDF: 9 pages
J. Biomed. Opt. 10(1) 011010 doi: 10.1117/1.1852551
Published in: Journal of Biomedical Optics Volume 10, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Teresa Wilcox, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Heather Bortfeld, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Rebecca Woods, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Eric Wruck, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
David A. Boas, Massachusetts General Hospital (United States)

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