Optical Brain Imaging

Study Goals

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a relatively new non-invasive light dependent technique that allows us to measure your brain activity. The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of this technique for evaluating pain in a healthy brain.

Our Approach

Your brain’s activity would be monitored and recorded using near-infrared light. Subjects will wear a specially designed cap with wires coming out and will be asked to sit as still as possible while we apply different types of stimuli. Since the study’s main purpose is to test a new way of evaluating pain, there will be sections involving brief, painful stimuli in the form of a slight electric shock or heat. The device will be set to levels you are comfortable with and the equipment is designed so that no physical harm can occur.

Eligibility to Participate

We are looking for healthy males between the ages of 18-40 who are non-smokers, right handed, and have no history of chronic pain and neurologic injury (e.g. migraines, concussions, strokes). In addition, you must not be taking any prescription medications. Due to the sensitivity of our imaging equipment, men with SHORT and LIGHT HAIR are preferred.

Study Visit Overview

This study will take place at Boston Children’s Hospital in Waltham and includes the following:

  1. Subjects be asked to sit in a chair and wear a special “swim-like cap” with red light shining from wires that will be placed on their head.
  2. Once the cap is in place, participants will be asked to sit still while we shine painless, harmless light onto their scalp.
  3. A series of pain stimuli (e.g. electrical pulse and heating block) will be placed on the subject’s hand. The pain stimuli will be enough to be uncomfortable, but not enough to physically harm the skin.
  4. The study consists of one visit of approximately 2 to 3 hours.


The compensation for participating in this study is $50 and free parking will be available.


This study is supported by the NIH.


For further information, please contact Arielle at [email protected]