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Ongoing Development of a Multi-channel Diffuse Optical Tomography System for Evaluation of Language and Communication Disorders

Diffuse optical tomography is a technique that uses interactions between light in the near-infrared part of the spectrum and blood components to allow non-invasive measurements of brain activity. Studies using this technology have demonstrated excellent sensitivity to subtle changes in brain blood oxygenation related to the performance of behavioral tasks involving language, perception and movement. Specifically, it has been possible to detect reliable and well-localized changes in brain activity while adult subjects performed voluntary finger movement and speech processing tasks. These results suggest that this technology could be scaled to systems that would allow simultaneous monitoring of the entire cortical surface. The NLM Family Foundation supported the development of an integrated non-invasive system to assess cortical brain activity involved in language and communication and explored possibilities of applying this technology to investigate communication difficulties experienced by those with autism.