Analysis methods for measuring passive auditory fNIRS responses generated by a block-design paradigm

Robert Luke*, Eric Larson, Maureen J. Shader, Hamish Innes-Brown, Lindsey Van Yper, Adrian K. C. Lee, Paul F. Sowman, David McAlpine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Significance: Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an increasingly popular tool in auditory research, but the range of analysis procedures employed across studies may complicate the interpretation of data. 

Aim: We aim to assess the impact of different analysis procedures on the morphology, detection, and lateralization of auditory responses in fNIRS. Specifically, we determine whether averaging or generalized linear model (GLM)-based analysis generates different experimental conclusions when applied to a block-protocol design. The impact of parameter selection of GLMs on detecting auditory-evoked responses was also quantified. Approach: 17 listeners were exposed to three commonly employed auditory stimuli: noise, speech, and silence. A block design, comprising sounds of 5 s duration and 10 to 20 s silent intervals, was employed. 

Results: Both analysis procedures generated similar response morphologies and amplitude estimates, and both indicated that responses to speech were significantly greater than to noise or silence. Neither approach indicated a significant effect of brain hemisphere on responses to speech. Methods to correct for systemic hemodynamic responses using short channels improved detection at the individual level. 

Conclusions: Consistent with theoretical considerations, simulations, and other experimental domains, GLM and averaging analyses generate the same group-level experimental conclusions. We release this dataset publicly for use in future development and optimization of algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025008
Pages (from-to)025008-1- 025008-18
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • auditory responses
  • block-design paradigm
  • analysis methods
  • speech
  • passive task


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