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Functional near infra-red spectroscopy during walking in young, old and Parkinson’s disease: a structured review.

Lookup NU author(s): Rodrigo Vitorio, Dr Sam Stuart, Professor Lynn RochesterORCiD, Dr Annette PantallORCiD, Dr Lisa AlcockORCiD


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BACKGROUND AND AIM: The use of functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate cortical activity during walking is emerging and may provide information regarding the neural correlates of mobility impairments caused by ageing and Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, there is a need for standardizing methodological procedures. This structured review aimed to (i) review fNIRS study design and protocols; (ii) assess the signal processing techniques used with fNIRS data to reduce artefacts and physiological noise; and (iii) synthesise key findings relating to fNIRS during both normal and complex walking tasks in young adults, older adults and people with PD.METHODS: Four electronic databases were searched (Embase, Psych-Info, Scopus and Pubmed). Search request consisted of four search fields; 1) measurement technique of interest to evaluate cortical activity, 2) synonyms for populations of interest (i.e. only studies that tested healthy young adults, healthy old adults or people with PD were included), 3) synonyms for walking tasks, and 4) synonyms for dual (cognitive and/or motor) tasks. Data was extracted by three reviewers (RV, SS, LA) and synthesised into table format and data entry was confirmed by another reviewer (AP). Data reviewed included: study design and protocol; dual task protocol; fNIRS devices; data outcomes; signal processing; and key findings.RESULTS: The search strategy yielded 73 articles from publication databases and seven additional articles were identified by screening reference lists. Twenty-one studies satisfied the criteria for inclusion. The frequency of published papers in this research area has increased considerably in the last four years. Protocols and methods for removing noise and artefacts varied; for example, many different filtering techniques and thresholds were reported. The studies reviewed reported increased activity in several cortical areas during walking relative to a rest condition. Differences in activation patterns were observed in treadmill vs. overground walking, normal vs. complex walking, easy vs. difficult tasks, acceleration vs. steady state phase during gait, young vs. old individuals and healthy vs. people with PD.CONCLUSIONS: Although recently great advances have been made in the field, further work is needed to establish robust methodologies. This review highlighted many inconsistencies in study design and protocols, signal processing techniques, as well as the description of age- and PD-related changes in cortical activity during walking. Changes in cortical activity are sensitive to task characteristics (i.e. complexity, difficulty, preparation, speed etc.) and phase (i.e. acceleration and steady state periods). The limited existing evidence suggests critical alterations in cortical activity during walking related to ageing and PD.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vitorio R, Stuart S, Rochester L, Pantall A, Alcock L

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: World Congress of the International Society for Posture and Gait Research

Year of Conference: 2017

Pages: 139-140

Print publication date: 25/06/2017

Online publication date: 25/06/2017

Acceptance date: 25/06/2017

Publisher: ISPGR