Multimodal exploration of non-motor neural functions in ALS patients using simultaneous EEG-fNIRS recording

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Objective. Despite the high prevalence of non-motor impairments reported in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), little is known about the functional neural markers underlying such dysfunctions. In this study, a new dual-Task multimodal framework relying on simultaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) recordings was developed to characterize integrative non-motor neural functions in people with ALS. Approach. Simultaneous EEG-fNIRS data were recorded from six subjects with ALS and twelve healthy controls. Through a proposed visuo-mental paradigm, subjects performed a set of visuo-mental arithmetic operations. The data recorded were analyzed with respect to event-related changes both in the time and frequency domains for EEG and de/oxygen-hemoglobin level (HbR/HbO) changes for fNIRS. The correlation of EEG spectral features with fNIRS HbO/HbR features were then evaluated to assess the mechanisms of ALS on the electrical (EEG)-vascular (fNIRS) interrelationships. Main results. We observed overall smaller increases in EEG delta and theta power, decreases in beta power, reductions in HbO responses, and distortions both in early and later EEG event-related potentials in ALS subjects compared to healthy controls. While significant correlations between EEG features and HbO responses were observed in healthy controls, these patterns were absent in ALS patients. Distortions in both electrical and hemodynamic responses are speculated to be associated with cognitive deficits in ALS that center primarily on attentional and working memory processing. Significance. Our results highlight the important role of ALS non-motor dysfunctions in electrical and hemodynamic neural dynamics as well as their interrelationships. The insights obtained through this study can enhance our understanding of the underlying non-motor neural processes in ALS and enrich future diagnostic and prognostic techniques.

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Journal of Neural Engineering