Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Schizophrenia: A Possible Biomarker for Predicting Clinical Outcome and Treatment Response.

Office for Mental Health Support, Division for Counseling and Support, The University of Tokyo , Tokyo , Japan
Frontiers in Psychiatry 01/2013; 4:145. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00145
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a relatively new technique that can measure hemoglobin changes in brain tissues, and its use in psychiatry has been progressing rapidly. Although it has several disadvantages (e.g., relatively low spatial resolution and the possibility of shallow coverage in the depth of brain regions) compared with other functional neuroimaging techniques (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography), fNIRS may be a candidate instrument for clinical use in psychiatry, as it can measure brain activity in naturalistic position easily and non-invasively. fNIRS instruments are also small and work silently, and can be moved almost everywhere including schools and care units. Previous fNIRS studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia have impaired activity and characteristic waveform patterns in the prefrontal cortex during the letter version of the verbal fluency task, and part of these results have been approved as one of the Advanced Medical Technologies as an aid for the differential diagnosis of depressive symptoms by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan in 2009, which was the first such approval in the field of psychiatry. Moreover, previous studies suggest that the activity in the frontopolar prefrontal cortex is associated with their functions in chronic schizophrenia and is its next candidate biomarker. Future studies aimed at exploring fNIRS differences in various clinical stages, longitudinal changes, drug effects, and variations during different task paradigms will be needed to develop more accurate biomarkers that can be used to aid differential diagnosis, the comprehension of the present condition, the prediction of outcome, and the decision regarding treatment options in schizophrenia. Future fNIRS researches will require standardized measurement procedures, probe settings, analytical methods and tools, manuscript description, and database systems in an fNIRS community.

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