Portable fNIRS for real-world neuroscience

Project: Research

Project Details


Real-world neuroscience and other “live” social interaction models of brain function are re-shaping human neuroscience research, as well as disorders of cognition (Redcay & Schillbach, 2019; Shamay-Tsoory & Mendelsohn, 2019). By taking the brain out of the lab and into the real-world, portable neuroscience equipment has vast potential to link lab research to real life experiences.

The requested item is portable and wearable, such that brain activity can be recorded as people move around freely, outside of laboratory settings. The relative ease of recording brain activity and portable nature of the equipment offer several advances to current research at MQ-:

1. The item will benefit research excellence by enabling cutting-edge approaches to “real-world” neuroscience, which is a new field of research (Shamay-Tsoory & Mendelsohn, 2019). Indeed, a major limitation of human neuroscience research is that it is almost entirely based upon research conducted in artificial, lab-based environments, which bolster experimental control at the expense of ecological validity (Redcay & Schillbach, 2019). Therefore, the opportunity to study brain mechanisms outside of the laboratory in situations that approximate real-life will provide researchers at MQ with the opportunity to take huge strides forward in the nascent field of real-world neuroscience.

2. The addition of a portable fNIRS system will build substantial research capacity by enabling brain research to lose its shackles and step out of the laboratory. Several research groups and researchers will benefit including the Centre for Children’s Learning in a Social World, PARC, CEPET, The ARC CCD, as well as researchers on topics such as human development (A/Prof. Sowman) person perception (A/Prof. Ramsey), social interactions (Prof. Cross, Prof. Richardson, A/Prof. Kallen) and cognition in real-world contexts (Dr. Harris).

3. The immediate impact is for researchers across the faculty to study brain mechanisms that underpin real-life social interactions in a manner that is only available at a few institutions world-wide. The longer-term impact is for understanding disorders of social information processing as experienced in Autism Spectrum Conditions, as well as the experience of loneliness, thus building links with clinicians and health organisations.
Effective start/end date1/01/2031/12/20