Special Issue "Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain"

A special issue of Photonics (ISSN 2304-6732).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Sergio Fantini Website E-Mail
Tufts University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 4 Colby Street, Medford, MA 02155, USA
Interests: biomedical optics; near-infrared spectroscopy; diffuse optical imaging

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Optical techniques have found a broad range of applications for the brain. For example, to investigate the brain structure, function, and connectivity of the brain, to assess brain perfusion and metabolism, to control neural activation, or to administer therapeutic interventions. This Special Issue is intended to provide a snapshot of the state-of-the-art of optics for the brain through a set of invited articles and contributions from research laboratories that are active in this field. Technical topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Optical microscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Photoacoustic imaging
  • Acousto-optics
  • Diffuse optical spectroscopy and imaging
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Diffuse correlation spectroscopy
  • Laser Doppler flowmetry and speckle contrast
  • Multimodal imaging
  • Wavefront engineering
  • Biophysical models for neurophotonics
  • Methods of data analysis, management, and visualization
  • Molecular imaging
  • Optogenetics
  • Fluorescence-guided neurosurgery
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photobiomodulation, low-level laser therapy

Optical techniques applied to:

  • synaptic physiology
  • brain perfusion
  • cerebrovascular reactivity and autoregulation
  • functional connectivity
  • transcranial brain stimulation
  • human-computer interaction
  • brain-computer interfaces
  • virtual reality

Prof. Dr. Sergio Fantini
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Photonics is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Effects of Performance and Task Duration on Mental Workload during Working Memory Task
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030094 - 28 Aug 2019
Abstract
N-back is a working memory (WM) task to study mental workload on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). We assume that the subject’s performance and changes in mental workload over time depends on the length of the experiment. The performance of the participant can change [...] Read more.
N-back is a working memory (WM) task to study mental workload on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). We assume that the subject’s performance and changes in mental workload over time depends on the length of the experiment. The performance of the participant can change positively due to the participant’s learning process or negatively because of objective mental fatigue and/or sleepiness. In this pilot study, we examined the PFC activation of 23 healthy subjects while they performed an N-back task with two different levels of task difficulty (2-, and 3-back). The hemodynamic responses were analyzed along with the behavioral data (correct answers). A comparison was done between the hemodynamic activation and behavioral data between the two different task levels and between the beginning and end of the 3-back task. Our results show that there is a significant difference between the two task levels, which is due to the difference in task complication. In addition, a significant difference was seen between the beginning and end of the 3-back task in both behavioral data and hemodynamics due to the subject’s learning process throughout the experiment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Multi-Distance Frequency-Domain Optical Measurements of Coherent Cerebral Hemodynamics
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030083 - 26 Jul 2019
Abstract
We report non-invasive, bilateral optical measurements on the forehead of five healthy human subjects, of 0.1 Hz oscillatory hemodynamics elicited either by cyclic inflation of pneumatic thigh cuffs, or by paced breathing. Optical intensity and the phase of photon-density waves were collected with [...] Read more.
We report non-invasive, bilateral optical measurements on the forehead of five healthy human subjects, of 0.1 Hz oscillatory hemodynamics elicited either by cyclic inflation of pneumatic thigh cuffs, or by paced breathing. Optical intensity and the phase of photon-density waves were collected with frequency-domain near-infrared spectroscopy at seven source-detector distances (11–40 mm). Coherent hemodynamic oscillations are represented by phasors of oxyhemoglobin (O) and deoxyhemoglobin (D) concentrations, and by the vector D/O that represents the amplitude ratio and phase difference of D and O. We found that, on an average, the amplitude ratio (|D/O|) and the phase difference (∠(D/O)) obtained with single-distance intensity at 11–40 mm increase from 0.1° and −330° to 0.2° and −200°, respectively. Single-distance phase and the intensity slope featured a weaker dependence on source-detector separation, and yielded |D/O| and ∠(D/O) values of about 0.5 and −200°, respectively, at distances greater than 20 mm. The key findings are: (1) Single-distance phase and intensity slope are sensitive to deeper tissue compared to single-distance intensity; (2) deeper tissue hemodynamic oscillations, which more closely represent the brain, feature D and O phasors that are consistent with a greater relative flow-to-volume contributions in brain tissue compared to extracerebral, superficial tissue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessArticle
The Optical Effective Attenuation Coefficient as an Informative Measure of Brain Health in Aging
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030079 - 12 Jul 2019
Abstract
Aging is accompanied by widespread changes in brain tissue. Here, we hypothesized that head tissue opacity to near-infrared light provides information about the health status of the brain’s cortical mantle. In diffusive media such as the head, opacity is quantified through the Effective [...] Read more.
Aging is accompanied by widespread changes in brain tissue. Here, we hypothesized that head tissue opacity to near-infrared light provides information about the health status of the brain’s cortical mantle. In diffusive media such as the head, opacity is quantified through the Effective Attenuation Coefficient (EAC), which is proportional to the geometric mean of the absorption and reduced scattering coefficients. EAC is estimated by the slope of the relationship between source–detector distance and the logarithm of the amount of light reaching the detector (optical density). We obtained EAC maps across the head in 47 adults (age range 18–75 years), using a high-density dual-wavelength optical system. We correlated regional and global EAC measures with demographic, neuropsychological, structural and functional brain data. Results indicated that EAC values averaged across wavelengths were strongly associated with age-related changes in cortical thickness, as well as functional and neuropsychological measures. This is likely because the EAC largely depends on the thickness of the sub-arachnoid cerebrospinal fluid layer, which increases with cortical atrophy. In addition, differences in EAC values between wavelengths were correlated with tissue oxygenation and cardiorespiratory fitness, indicating that information about cortical health can be derived non-invasively by quantifying the EAC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Optoacoustic Calcium Imaging of Deep Brain Activity in an Intracardially Perfused Mouse Brain Model
Photonics 2019, 6(2), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6020067 - 12 Jun 2019
Abstract
One main limitation of established neuroimaging methods is the inability to directly visualize large-scale neural dynamics in whole mammalian brains at subsecond speeds. Optoacoustic imaging has advanced in recent years to provide unique advantages for real-time deep-tissue observations, which have been exploited for [...] Read more.
One main limitation of established neuroimaging methods is the inability to directly visualize large-scale neural dynamics in whole mammalian brains at subsecond speeds. Optoacoustic imaging has advanced in recent years to provide unique advantages for real-time deep-tissue observations, which have been exploited for three-dimensional imaging of both cerebral hemodynamic parameters and direct calcium activity in rodents. Due to a lack of suitable calcium indicators excitable in the near-infrared window, optoacoustic imaging of neuronal activity at deep-seated areas of the mammalian brain has been impeded by the strong absorption of blood in the visible range of the light spectrum. To overcome this, we have developed and validated an intracardially perfused mouse brain preparation labelled with genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP6f that closely resembles in vivo conditions. By overcoming the limitations of hemoglobin-based light absorption, this new technique was used to observe stimulus-evoked calcium dynamics in the brain at penetration depths and spatio-temporal resolution scales not attainable with existing neuroimaging techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Optical Imaging in Brainsmatics
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030098 - 07 Sep 2019
Abstract
When neuroscience’s focus moves from molecular and cellular level to systems level, information technology mixes in and cultivates a new branch neuroinformatics. Especially under the investments of brain initiatives all around the world, brain atlases and connectomics are identified as the substructure to [...] Read more.
When neuroscience’s focus moves from molecular and cellular level to systems level, information technology mixes in and cultivates a new branch neuroinformatics. Especially under the investments of brain initiatives all around the world, brain atlases and connectomics are identified as the substructure to understand the brain. We think it is time to call for a potential interdisciplinary subject, brainsmatics, referring to brain-wide spatial informatics science and emphasizing on precise positioning information affiliated to brain-wide connectome, genome, proteome, transcriptome, metabolome, etc. Brainsmatics methodology includes tracing, surveying, visualizing, and analyzing brain-wide spatial information. Among all imaging techniques, optical imaging is the most appropriate solution to achieve whole-brain connectome in consistent single-neuron resolution. This review aims to introduce contributions of optical imaging to brainsmatics studies, especially the major strategies applied in tracing and surveying processes. After discussions on the state-of-the-art technology, the development objectives of optical imaging in brainsmatics field are suggested. We call for a global contribution to the brainsmatics field from all related communities such as neuroscientists, biologists, engineers, programmers, chemists, mathematicians, physicists, clinicians, pharmacists, etc. As the leading approach, optical imaging will, in turn, benefit from the prosperous development of brainsmatics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Optogenetics in Brain Research: From a Strategy to Investigate Physiological Function to a Therapeutic Tool
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030092 - 20 Aug 2019
Abstract
Dissecting the functional roles of neuronal circuits and their interaction is a crucial step in basic neuroscience and in all the biomedical field. Optogenetics is well-suited to this purpose since it allows us to study the functionality of neuronal networks on multiple scales [...] Read more.
Dissecting the functional roles of neuronal circuits and their interaction is a crucial step in basic neuroscience and in all the biomedical field. Optogenetics is well-suited to this purpose since it allows us to study the functionality of neuronal networks on multiple scales in living organisms. This tool was recently used in a plethora of studies to investigate physiological neuronal circuit function in addition to dysfunctional or pathological conditions. Moreover, optogenetics is emerging as a crucial technique to develop new rehabilitative and therapeutic strategies for many neurodegenerative diseases in pre-clinical models. In this review, we discuss recent applications of optogenetics, starting from fundamental research to pre-clinical applications. Firstly, we described the fundamental components of optogenetics, from light-activated proteins to light delivery systems. Secondly, we showed its applications to study neuronal circuits in physiological or pathological conditions at the cortical and subcortical level, in vivo. Furthermore, the interesting findings achieved using optogenetics as a therapeutic and rehabilitative tool highlighted the potential of this technique for understanding and treating neurological diseases in pre-clinical models. Finally, we showed encouraging results recently obtained by applying optogenetics in human neuronal cells in-vitro. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessReview
Update of fNIRS as an Input to Brain–Computer Interfaces: A Review of Research from the Tufts Human–Computer Interaction Laboratory
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030090 - 04 Aug 2019
Abstract
Over the past decade, the Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab at Tufts University has been developing real-time, implicit Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This paper reviews the work of the lab; we explore how we have used fNIRS to develop BCIs [...] Read more.
Over the past decade, the Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab at Tufts University has been developing real-time, implicit Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This paper reviews the work of the lab; we explore how we have used fNIRS to develop BCIs that are based on a variety of human states, including cognitive workload, multitasking, musical learning applications, and preference detection. Our work indicates that fNIRS is a robust tool for the classification of brain-states in real-time, which can provide programmers with useful information to develop interfaces that are more intuitive and beneficial for the user than are currently possible given today’s human-input (e.g., mouse and keyboard). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
A Mini-Review on Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS): Where Do We Stand, and Where Should We Go?
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030087 - 01 Aug 2019
Abstract
This mini-review is aimed at briefly summarizing the present status of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and predicting where the technique should go in the next decade. This mini-review quotes 33 articles on the different fNIRS basics and technical developments and 44 reviews on [...] Read more.
This mini-review is aimed at briefly summarizing the present status of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and predicting where the technique should go in the next decade. This mini-review quotes 33 articles on the different fNIRS basics and technical developments and 44 reviews on the fNIRS applications published in the last eight years. The huge number of review articles about a wide spectrum of topics in the field of cognitive and social sciences, functional neuroimaging research, and medicine testifies to the maturity achieved by this non-invasive optical vascular-based functional neuroimaging technique. Today, fNIRS has started to be utilized on healthy subjects while moving freely in different naturalistic settings. Further instrumental developments are expected to be done in the near future to fully satisfy this latter important aspect. In addition, fNIRS procedures, including correction methods for the strong extracranial interferences, need to be standardized before using fNIRS as a clinical tool in individual patients. New research avenues such as interactive neurosciences, cortical activation modulated by different type of sport performance, and cortical activation during neurofeedback training are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer’s Disease: Has the Light Dawned?
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030077 - 04 Jul 2019
Abstract
Next to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia is probably the most worrying health problem facing the Western world today. A large number of clinical trials have failed to show any benefit of the tested drugs in stabilizing or reversing the steady decline [...] Read more.
Next to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia is probably the most worrying health problem facing the Western world today. A large number of clinical trials have failed to show any benefit of the tested drugs in stabilizing or reversing the steady decline in cognitive function that is suffered by dementia patients. Although the pathological features of AD consisting of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles are well established, considerable debate exists concerning the genetic or lifestyle factors that predispose individuals to developing dementia. Photobiomodulation (PBM) describes the therapeutic use of red or near-infrared light to stimulate healing, relieve pain and inflammation, and prevent tissue from dying. In recent years PBM has been applied for a diverse range of brain disorders, frequently applied in a non-invasive manner by shining light on the head (transcranial PBM). The present review discusses the mechanisms of action of tPBM in the brain, and summarizes studies that have used tPBM to treat animal models of AD. The results of a limited number of clinical trials that have used tPBM to treat patients with AD and dementia are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Open AccessReview
A Review of Intrinsic Optical Imaging Serial Blockface Histology (ICI-SBH) for Whole Rodent Brain Imaging
Photonics 2019, 6(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6020066 - 11 Jun 2019
Abstract
In recent years, multiple serial histology techniques were developed to enable whole rodent brain imaging in 3-D. The main driving forces behind the emergence of these imaging techniques were the genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the mouse brain, the pursuit of the [...] Read more.
In recent years, multiple serial histology techniques were developed to enable whole rodent brain imaging in 3-D. The main driving forces behind the emergence of these imaging techniques were the genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the mouse brain, the pursuit of the mouse brain connectome, and the BigBrain project. These projects rely on the use of optical imaging to target neuronal structures with histological stains or fluorescent dyes that are either expressed by transgenic mice or injected at specific locations in the brain. Efforts to adapt the serial histology acquisition scheme to use intrinsic contrast imaging (ICI) were also put forward, thus leveraging the natural contrast of neuronal tissue. This review focuses on these efforts. First, the origin of optical contrast in brain tissue is discussed with emphasis on the various imaging modalities exploiting these contrast mechanisms. Serial blockface histology (SBH) systems using ICI modalities are then reported, followed by a review of some of their applications. These include validation studies and the creation of multimodal brain atlases at a micrometer resolution. The paper concludes with a perspective of future developments, calling for a consolidation of the SBH research and development efforts around the world. The goal would be to offer the neuroscience community a single standardized open-source SBH solution, including optical design, acquisition automation, reconstruction algorithms, and analysis pipelines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperOpinion
fNIRS for Tracking Brain Development in the Context of Global Health Projects
Photonics 2019, 6(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030089 - 02 Aug 2019
Abstract
Over the past 25 years, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has emerged as a valuable tool to study brain function, and it is in younger participants where it has found, arguably, its most successful application. Thanks to its infant-friendly features, the technology has helped [...] Read more.
Over the past 25 years, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has emerged as a valuable tool to study brain function, and it is in younger participants where it has found, arguably, its most successful application. Thanks to its infant-friendly features, the technology has helped shape research in the neurocognitive development field by contributing to our understanding of the neural underpinnings of sensory perception and socio-cognitive skills. Furthermore, it has provided avenues of exploration for markers of compromised brain development. Advances in fNIRS instrumentation and methods have enabled the next step in the evolution of its applications including the investigation of the effects of complex and interacting socio-economic and environmental adversities on brain development. To do this, it is necessary to take fNIRS out of well-resourced research labs (the majority located in high-income countries) to study at-risk populations in resource-poor settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Here we review the use of this technology in global health studies, we discuss the implementation of fNIRS studies in LMICs with a particular emphasis on the Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) project, and we consider its potential in this emerging field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
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