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Near Infra-red Spectroscopy
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Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a spectroscopic method utilising the near infra-red region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from about 800 nm to 2500 nm). Typical applications include pharmaceutical, medical diagnostics (including blood sugar and oximetry), food and agrochemical quality control, as well as combustion research.

It has been known for more than 100 years that specific types of neurological deficits are induced by lesions to particular areas of the brain. The observational data accumulated in this past century indicate that the brain can be viewed as a complex information-processing center comprising structures specialized for different types of functions. Different areas work together to produce complex behavior that may be disrupted if the communication between areas is severed. In the past 20 years, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists have increasingly converged their mutual observations towards a comprehensive theory of brain/mind function, this new discipline being named “cognitive neuroscience.”

Non-invasive functional brain imaging techniques are instrumental in advancing the discipline, as they allow the researcher to derive measures of physiological activity of the human brain. Functional information, versus structural, derives from the slow (> 100 ms) and fast (< 100 ms) optical signals observed during brain stimulation. Functional measurements have been reported on the motor cortex during motor stimulation; on the visual cortex during visual stimulation; on the frontal region during mental work; and on the monitoring of cerebral hemodynamics during sleep.
Brain imaging techniques can be broadly classified in two groups. One group includes the techniques that have a good spatial resolution (up to 1-2 millimeters) but a poor temporal resolution, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The second group includes techniques featuring an excellent temporal resolution (of the order of milliseconds) but providing a limited spatial information. This group includes the Event Related Brain Potential (ERP) and the Magneto-encephalography (MEG).
The SHIMADZU NIRS systems provide a balance between temporal and spatial resolution for the study of superficially located areas of human brain.
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