Assessing Cortical Activity

Measuring brain activity while a subject is physically active (e.g., running on a treadmill) is challenging. One non-invasive neuroimaging method that can be used during physical activity is functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). fNIRS has a comparatively low susceptibility for motion artifacts and is therefore a useful method for analysing psychological processes during physical activity. fNIRS measures hemodynamic changes in cortical areas: It allows for the assessment of changes in oxygenated (O2Hb) and deoxygenated hemoglobin (HHb) in the cortex with acceptable temporal and spatial resolution. Exemplary topics where we use fNIRS for is to analyse the role of self-control during endurance performance, to examine psychological conflicts provoked by motive-incongruency in training situations and to investigate cortical correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for physical activity. For a (German) introduction to fNIRS, click here