Tracking differential activation of primary and supplementary motor cortex across timing tasks: An fNIRS validation study

Ali Rahimpour, Luca Pollonini, Daniel Comstock, Ramesh Balasubramaniam, Heather Bortfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) provides an alternative to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) for assessing changes in cortical hemodynamics. To establish the utility of fNIRS for measuring differential recruitment of the motor network during the production of timing-based actions, we measured cortical hemodynamic responses in 10 healthy adults while they performed two versions of a finger-tapping task. The task, used in an earlier fMRI study (Jantzen et al., 2004), was designed to track the neural basis of different timing behaviors. Participants paced their tapping to a metronomic tone, then continued tapping at the established pace without the tone. Initial tapping was either synchronous or syncopated relative to the tone. This produced a 2 × 2 design: synchronous or syncopated tapping and pacing the tapping with or continuing without a tone. Accuracy of the timing of tapping was tracked while cortical hemodynamics were monitored using fNIRS. Hemodynamic responses were computed by canonical statistical analysis across trials in each of the four conditions. Task-induced brain activation resulted in significant increases in oxygenated hemoglobin concentration (oxy-Hb) in a broad region in and around the motor cortex. Overall, syncopated tapping was harder behaviorally and produced more cortical activation than synchronous tapping. Thus, we observed significant changes in oxy-Hb in direct relation to the complexity of the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108790
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Jul 15 2020


  • Canonical statistical analysis
  • Continuation paradigm
  • Finger tapping task
  • HRF
  • Simple motor timing task
  • Temporal motor task
  • fNIRS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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