The development of proper sleep architecture during early life is crucial to later neurocognitive health and well-being. Understanding the ontogeny of sleep in neonates—and potential mechanisms that may disrupt this process—thus has significant clinical potential. This is particularly important for infants born pre-term, who are at risk of impaired neurodevelopment. Investigations into sleep states are complemented by studies on resting state networks (RSN) in infants.
In recent years, the number of studies investigating sleep and RSN in neonates has grown immensely. Most of these studies have employed functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) and EEG. Despite the advantages of fcMRI and EEG for monitoring sleep states and RSN, there are significant drawbacks to these techniques, particularly in the infant population.
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has emerged as a more promising modality due to its practical advantages, which include portability, low-cost and silent operation. Multichannel fNRIS can be more readily combined with EEG than fcMRI, since both modalities are portable and share a common set-up procedure that allows for simultaneous application of both devices to an infant subject.
The present study aims to expand the current understanding of the effects of sleep on the infant resting state functional connectivity. This will be achieved by combining EEG with a high-density, whole-head fNRIS array. This array, LUMO, was designed by our collaborators at Gowerlabs. We are currently using LUMO to measure spontaneous cortical hemodynamic activity in infants during active and quiet sleep.