Cognitive Enhancement by Transcranial Photobiomodulation Is Associated With Cerebrovascular Oxygenation of the Prefrontal Cortex.
Front Neurosci. 2019 ;13:1129. Epub 2019 Oct 18. PMID: 31680847
Transcranial infrared laser stimulation (TILS) is a novel, safe, non-invasive method of brain photobiomodulation. Laser stimulation of the human prefrontal cortex causes cognitive enhancement. To investigate the hemodynamic effects in prefrontal cortex by which this cognitive enhancement occurs, we used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is a safe, non-invasive method of monitoring hemodynamics. We measured concentration changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin, total hemoglobin and differential effects in 18 healthy adults during sustained attention and working memory performance, before and after laser of the right prefrontal cortex. We also measured 16 sham controls without photobiomodulation. fNIRS revealed large effects on prefrontal oxygenation during cognitive enhancement post-laser and provided the first demonstration that cognitive enhancement by transcranial photobiomodulation is associated with cerebrovascular oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex. Sham control data served to rule out that the laser effects were due to pre-post task repetition or other non-specific effects. A laser-fNIRS combination may be useful to stimulate and monitor cerebrovascular oxygenation associated with neurocognitive enhancement in healthy individuals and in those with prefrontal hypometabolism, such as in cognitive aging, dementia and many neuropsychiatric disorders.