Light propagation in NIR spectroscopy of the human brain

Vesa O. Korhonen, Teemu S. Myllylä, Mikhail Yu. Kirillin, Alexey P. Popov, Alexander V. Bykov, Anton V. Gorshkov, Ekaterina A. Sergeeva, Matti Kinnunen, Vesa Kiviniemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In study of the brain, oxygenation changes in the cerebral cortex are of great interest, since the concentrations of oxyhaemoglobin and deoxyhaemoglobin change due to coupling of hemodynamics to cortical neural activity. In order to noninvasively monitor oxygenation in the cerebral cortex by nearinfrared spectroscopy (NIRS), light should penetrate into brain tissue to a depth of approximately 1-2 cm.Many studies show that by increasing the source-detector distance, illuminating light penetrates deeper into brain tissue. Using tissue-mimicking phantom measurements, forehead in vivo measurements, and Monte Carlo (MC) simulations, this paper estimates light propagation in the brain and the minimum source-detector distance to allow sensing of the cerebral cortex.We present optical sensing of a pulsating aqueous intralipid suspension in a vessel located at different depths within a multilayered phantom of the human forehead. Experimental results are compared with the MC simulations accounting for the optical properties of the phantom. The thickness and morphology of the different tissue layers were obtained froman anatomical magnetic resonance image of a test subject's head. Results from these three methods correlate with each other and show that the brain cortex can be sensed with optical methods based on NIRS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6600776
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brain
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • Nearinfrared spectroscopy (NIRS)
  • Phantom


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