Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Frank Ciarallo (Committee Member), Thomas Hangartner (Committee Member), Ping He (Committee Member), Nasser Kashou (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSEgr)


Introduction: Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a relatively young technique in the field of medical imaging. As such, it has yet to be widely implemented for clinical use, despite its promising advantages. However, unlike fMRI-its much bulkier and costly counterpart-fNIRS has yet to be proven as a standalone imaging tool within a clinical setting, particularly that of ophthalmology or physical therapy.

Methods: Ten healthy young adults (23.8 ± 4.8 years) participated in the study. Activation of the visual cortex was achieved utilizing various reversing checkerboard stimuli across three data collection sessions for each participant. Further, activation of the motor cortex was achieved using simple grasping and finger tapping tasks. Data was processed with MATLAB scripts and statistical analysis was performed using JMP.

Results: Quantitatively, statistically significant differences in the level of activation were elicited by some stimuli, but not others. No differences were discovered between the levels of activation for the two motor tasks. However, as expected, differences were observed between the hair types of participants for both visual and motor activation. Additionally, one of the three data collection sessions for each participant tended to give statistically different results than the other two. Qualitatively, the number of stimulus events and data channels which showed activation were inconsistent.

Conclusions: It has been shown, both previously (by others) and within this study, that fNIRS is indeed feasible for investigating the visual and motor cortices. However, a reliable level of robustness and sensitivity is required for clinical implementation. This research shows that fNIRS can in fact achieve an appropriate level of sensitivity for visual studies, but it still lacks an appropriate level of robustness in terms of repeatability and corporal differences for assessment of visual or motor dysfunction.

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Department or Program

Department of Biomedical, Industrial & Human Factors Engineering

Year Degree Awarded