Brain activity has been investigated by several methods with different principles, notably optical ones. Each method may offer information on distinct physiological or pathological aspects of brain function. The ideal instrument to measure brain activity should include complementary techniques and integrate the resultant information. As a "low cost" approach towards this objective, we combined the well-grounded electroencephalography technique with the newer near infrared spectroscopy methods to investigate human visual function.
The article describes an embedded instrumentation combining a continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy system and an electroencephalography system to simultaneously monitor functional hemodynamics and electrical activity. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) signal depends on the light absorption spectra of haemoglobin and measures the blood volume and blood oxygenation regulation supporting the neural activity. The NIRS and visual evoked potential (VEP) are concurrently acquired during steady state visual stimulation, at 8 Hz, with a b/w "windmill" pattern, in nine human subjects. The pattern contrast is varied (1%, 10%, 100%) according to a stimulation protocol.
In this study, we present the measuring system; the results consist in concurrent recordings of hemodynamic changes and evoked potential responses emerging from different contrast levels of a patterned stimulus.
The concentration of [HbO2] increases and [HHb] decreases after the onset of the stimulus. Their variation shows a clear relationship with the contrast value: large contrast produce huge difference in concentration, while low contrast provokes small concentration difference. This behaviour is similar to the already known relationship between VEP response amplitude and contrast.
The simultaneous recording and analysis of NIRS and VEP signals in humans during visual stimulation with a b/w pattern at variable contrast, demonstrates a strong linear correlation between hemodynamic changes and evoked potential amplitude. Furthermore both responses present a logarithmic profile with stimulus contrast.