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Open AccessArticle

The Validity of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Recordings of Visuospatial Working Memory Processes in Humans

1
Institute of Psychology, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
2
Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Witten/Herdecke, 58455 Witten, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2018, 8(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8040062
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 22 March 2018 / Accepted: 30 March 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is increasingly used for investigating cognitive processes. To provide converging evidence for the validity of fNIRS recordings in cognitive neuroscience, we investigated functional activation in the frontal cortex in 43 participants during the processing of a visuospatial working memory (WM) task and a sensory duration discrimination (DD) task functionally unrelated to WM. To distinguish WM-related processes from a general effect of increased task demand, we applied an adaptive approach, which ensured that subjective task demand was virtually identical for all individuals and across both tasks. Our specified region of interest covered Brodmann Area 8 of the left hemisphere, known for its important role in the execution of WM processes. Functional activation, as indicated by an increase of oxygenated and a decrease of deoxygenated hemoglobin, was shown for the WM task, but not in the DD task. The overall pattern of results indicated that hemodynamic responses recorded by fNIRS are sensitive to specific visuospatial WM capacity-related processes and do not reflect a general effect of increased task demand. In addition, the finding that no such functional activation could be shown for participants with far above-average mental ability suggested different cognitive processes adopted by this latter group. View Full-Text
Keywords: fNIRS; visuospatial working memory capacity; validity; sensitivity; specificity; subjective task demand; mental ability; duration discrimination fNIRS; visuospatial working memory capacity; validity; sensitivity; specificity; subjective task demand; mental ability; duration discrimination
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Witmer, J.S.; Aeschlimann, E.A.; Metz, A.J.; Troche, S.J.; Rammsayer, T.H. The Validity of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Recordings of Visuospatial Working Memory Processes in Humans. Brain Sci. 2018, 8, 62.

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