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Diffuse optical tomography uses near-infrared light spectroscopy to measure changes in cerebral hemoglobin concentration. Anatomical interpretations of the location that generates the hemodynamic signal requires accurate descriptions of diffuse optical tomography sensitivity to the underlying cortical structures. Such information is limited for pediatric populations because they undergo rapid head and brain development. The present study used photon propagation simulation methods to examine diffuse optical tomography sensitivity profiles in realistic head models among infants ranging from 2 weeks to 24 months with narrow age bins, children (4 and 12 years) and adults (20 to 24 years). The sensitivity profiles changed systematically with the source-detector separation distance. The peak of the sensitivity function in the head was largest at the smallest separation distance and decreased as separation distance increased. The fluence value dissipated more quickly with sampling depth at the shorter source-detector separations than the longer separation distances. There were age-related differences in the shape and variance of sensitivity profiles across a wide range of source-detector separation distances. Our findings have important implications in the design of sensor placement and diffuse optical tomography image reconstruction in (functional) near-infrared light spectroscopy research. Age-appropriate realistic head models should be used to provide anatomical guidance for standalone near-infrared light spectroscopy data in infants.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© 2021 Fu, Richards. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

APA Citation

Fu, X., & Richards, J. E. (2021). Age-related changes in diffuse optical tomography sensitivity profiles in infancy. PLOS ONE, 16(6).

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