Consistency of children's hemodynamic responses during spontaneous speech
children, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, language, speech
Hemodynamic responses (HRs) are typically averaged across experimental sessions based on the assumption that brain activation is consistent over multiple trials. This may not be a safe assumption, especially in pediatric populations, due to unaccounted effects of inattention, fatigue, or habituation. The purpose of this study was to quantify the consistency of the HR over speech and language brain regions during speech production in typically developing school-aged children. Brain activity over speech and language regions of interest (ROIs) was recorded with functional near-infrared spectroscopy during a picture description paradigm with 37 children (aged 7 to 12 years). We divided the 30 experimental trials, each 5 s long, into three segments of 10 trials each corresponding with early (trials 1 to 10), middle (trials 11 to 20), and late (trials 21 to 30) trials. We then compared oxygenated (HbO) and deoxygenated (HbR) hemoglobin concentrations averaged across each 10 trial segment to overall concentrations averaged across all 30 trials. We also compared differential hemoglobin (HbD) across ROIs. HbO and HbR averaged across all experimental trials most strongly correlated with HbO and HbR from early trials. HbD values from channels over most speech and language regions did not appreciably change throughout the experimental session. The exception was HbD values from channels over the dorsal inferior frontal gyrus (dIFG). This region showed significantly higher activation over the left hemisphere during the first segment of the experiment. Our findings suggest that brain activity from speech and language ROIs was relatively consistent over the experimental session. The exception was increased activation of left dIFG during earlier experimental trials. We suggest that researchers critically evaluate the consistency of HRs from different brain regions to determine the reliability of HRs recorded during experimental sessions. This step is instrumental in ensuring that uncontrolled effects do not mask patterns of task-related activation.
Tichenor, S. E., Walsh, B., Gerwin, K. L., & Tian, F. (2022). Consistency of children's hemodynamic responses during spontaneous speech. Neurophotonics, 9 (1), 15003. https://doi.org/10.1117/1.NPh.9.1.015003