It’s been a long time since my last post (tisk tisk!) so here I am, catching up.
Last week one of my advisors, Lauren Emberson, hosted a NIRS workshop at the University of Rochester. NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) is a non-invasive imaging technique used to measure the metabolic activity in the cortex. (For a great review, see Aslin, 2012.) Basically, when areas of the cortex are more active, this requires additional metabolic support, so more oxygenated hemoglobin is transferred to the location of activation. Light is absorbed differentially for oxygenated hemoglobin and deoxygenated hemoglobin, so our measure is essentially how much light the cortex in an approximate area is absorbing during x measurement time. (Note: I say “approximate” because one of the downsides of current NIRS systems is low spatial resolution, as compared to fMRI, so we can’t make super exact claims about cortical areas.) NIRS is an excellent method to use with infants, because the imaging doesn’t require rigid head stabilization. Infants wear a cap (similar to EEG) and can sit on their parent’s lap while watching+/listening to audio+/visual stimuli.
This was a great opportunity – both to learn more about the NIRS methodology and recent literature, but also to bond with my future labmates. Here are a few pictures from the trip: