Objectives. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is one of the fastest developing neuroimaging modalities. Features, such as non-invasiveness, simplicity of application and resistance to motion artefacts, allow to take measurements and to create scientific experiments imitating real life conditions. In this review, we want to focus on the potential of fNIRS in the fields of psychiatry, neurorehabilitation and physical exercise. Additionally, we present the advantages of fNIRS over other neuroimaging techniques like fMRI, PET and EEG/EMG. We also consider potential directions of development and challenges which emerge in front of the fNIRS society.
Literature review. The main application in the discipline of neurorehabilitation is to monitor and to observe the repair mechanism of neurons after brain traumas. The non-invasiveness of infra-red light permits to investigate patients of both adult and child psychiatry. The utility of fNIRS as a diagnostic tool and a predictor is proven. Researchers are looking for functional abnormalities within the prefrontal cortex. fNIRS creates new possibilities in terms of exploration of the physical exercise. Recent articles consider which type of effort has the best effect on the hemodynamic response in the cortex. It seems that investigating the impact of the physical activity in group of psychiatric patients is an interesting direction.
Conclusions. Currently, we are at the breakthrough in the fNIRS technology. The number of new studies, more precise methods of data analysis, and availability of good quality systems help us to better understand how to design scientific experiments properly and reliably measure the activity of the cerebral cortex.