About this Research Topic
This Research Topic is an expanded version of the preceding one, “Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in functional research of prefrontal cortex” which we hosted in this journal between 2013 and 2014. Having included 17 research articles and 2 reviews, our previous Research Topic could successfully provide a forum for scientists working with functional studies of prefrontal brain activations. Moreover, the produced Research Topic volume is of interest to a wide area of researchers engaging with clinical works because our topic has revealed the fact that NIRS is indeed a powerful tool for investigation of brain function due to its safety and relative easiness of use that enable to apply in patients with brain dysfunctions, and even in infants. Many positive responses encouraged us to host the current topic.
Clinical implications of NIRS research could be mainly divided into two purposes. One of them is to understand the underlying biological mechanisms of psychiatric and neurological disorders, which would not be limited to human studies, but include animal models such as non-human primates. The other seeks use of NIRS measurements of cortical activity as biomarkers of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Indeed, one of major problems that biomedical and clinical research suffer from is relying on diagnosis that is primarily based on non-biological methods using manuals such as DSM-5 and ICD-10. Thus, an establishment of biologically-based diagnosis of the disorders is the most urgent issue to be solved in clinical studies. In this regard, NIRS, which can be used in clinics and hospitals, is apparently one of the most suitable tools that can yield clear, biologically-based diagnosis of the disorders. Nevertheless, we still require substantial progress of research.
Based on the success of our previous attempt, the purpose of the current topic is to extend our collection of articles addressing NIRS in normal function of the prefrontal cortex as well as the cortex dysfunction in psychiatric and neurological disorders. The brain region is thought to be a central brain area that processes cognitive function and affective regulation, and its deficits have been implicated in various psychiatric and neurological disorders. Understanding of the biological mechanisms of brain dysfunction in psychiatric and neurological disorders does not necessarily come from studies in patients, but consideration of normal brain function in healthy subjects is equally important. This topic, if it is successful, will serve as a forum where both scientists from “basic research” and those from “clinical research” closely interact with one another. In addition to ongoing original research, review articles and perspectives of NIRS research dealing with prefrontal function and dysfunction in any relevant fields are encouraged. We hope this collection of articles would serve as an additional reference repository of knowledge, which aids further advance of research for the fields.