Characterization of Mayer-wave oscillations in functional near-infrared spectroscopy using a physiologically informed model of the neural power spectra

Robert Luke*, Maureen J. Shader, David McAlpine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Significance: Mayer waves are spontaneous oscillations in arterial blood pressure that can mask cortical hemodynamic responses associated with neural activity of interest. Aim: We aim to characterize the properties of oscillations in the functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) signal generated by Mayer waves in a large sample of fNIRS recordings. Further, we aim to determine the impact of short-channel correction for the attenuation of these unwanted signal components. 

Approach: Mayer-wave oscillation parameters were extracted from 310 fNIRS measurements using the fitting oscillations and one-over-f method to compute normative values. The effect of short-channel correction on Mayer-wave oscillation power was quantified on 222 measurements. The practical benefit of the short-channel correction approach for reducing Mayer waves and improving response detection was also evaluated on a subgroup of 17 fNIRS measurements collected during a passive auditory speech detection experiment. 

Results: Mayer-wave oscillations had a mean frequency of 0.108 Hz, bandwidth of 0.04 Hz, and power of 3.5 μM2 / Hz. The distribution of oscillation signal power was positively skewed, with some measurements containing large Mayer waves. Short-channel correction significantly reduced the amplitude of these undesired signals; greater attenuation was observed for measurements containing larger Mayer-wave oscillations. 

Conclusions: A robust method for quantifying Mayer-wave oscillations in the fNIRS signal spectrum was presented and used to provide normative parameterization. Short-channel correction is recommended as an approach for attenuating Mayer waves, particularly in participants with large oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041001
Pages (from-to)041001-1-041001-9
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 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.


  • functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Mayer waves
  • signal processing


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