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  • Registration: Registration is now open. For further information about the registration, including information about fees, please go to the registration page. To register, please proceed to the online registration form.
  • Dates: Abstract submission deadline has been extended to July 15th.
  • Travel awards: Thanks to our industry sponsors, we are able to offer a limited number of travel awards ($250 each) for students and post-docs presenting original research results. The program committee will select the awards among the submitted abstracts. Please, remember to specify in the submission if you are eligible for the award (first author must currently be a student or a post-doc).

Important Dates

  • Abstract submission opens: March 20, 2017
  • Abstract submission deadline: June 30, 2017 Extended, July 15, 2017 at 23:59 Pacific Standard Time; UTC -8
  • Notification of acceptance: Aug 11, 2017
  • Pre-Registration deadline: Sept. 15, 2017
  • Symposium: Oct. 20-21, 2017


This symposium will provide a unique forum for the Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (NIRS) community to review the current status of global NIRS research in global health projects and discuss the challenges that lie ahead in advancing the technique as a successful neuroimaging tool in resource poor settings.

Call for Participation

With initiatives like the Human Brain Project (Human Brain Project 2016) and the BRAIN Initiative (National Institutes of Health 2016) well under way, the neurosciences are experiencing an unprecedented time of discovery. However, due in large part to the technological limitations of many of the neuroimaging modalities in use, monitoring of the brain has generally been confined to laboratory settings. This has limited the ecological validity of the technologies for functional studies and severely constrained their routine exploitation in clinical settings beyond highly specialized hospitals. While deployment of neuroimaging modalities to remote, underserved and rural settings would involve a number of challenges, its impact for clinical applications and global health—as well as for neuroscientific research—could be substantial. There is a clear unmet need for a neuroimaging tool that can provide objective measurements of cognitive function and that can be used in remote locations. Initiatives like Global fNIRS ( have shown that NIRS can fill this very important need. Pioneering research is under way in Gambia, Uganda, India, Guinea Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Bangladesh and Colombia, but even with these early encouraging efforts the ordinary use and availability of NIRS for global health applications is far from a reality. Among the challenges that remain to be overcome:

  • Challenges related to measurements in low-resource settings: Functional NIRS and neurophysiology NIRS measurements in underdeveloped countries, in rural areas and in the field require special equipment, special training and local support. Applications in these settings range from functional cognitive studies to diagnostic and treatment outcome predictions.
  • Mechanical and instrumental challenges: Instruments may require redesigns to meet the particular needs of field measurements. The optics and electronics need to work under challenging environmental conditions while the costs of the instrumentation and optical sensors need to be brought down.
  • Socioeconomic and cultural challenges: Going global implies crossing administrative, cultural and ethnographic borders. As the socioeconomic status and habits of the population change so do their living standards. This has implications for the implementation of NIRS technology. More importantly, these socioeconomic differences could affect the human brain and may be quantifiable with NIRS measures.
  • Neurophysiological challenges: More studies are needed to improve our understandings of the cerebral hemodynamic evoked responses: for instance, the relationship between hemoglobin changes and neuronal activity and the interference of systemic physiology. In addition, more studies are needed to demonstrate the clinical utility of hemodynamic biomarkers for diagnosis and for neuro-monitoring.
  • Basic science challenges: Our ability to correctly interpret results can be limited by any or all of the following: extracerebral contamination, scattering and water concentration assumptions, geometrical approximations, assumptions about a constant flow-volume relationship. Modalities such as time-resolved NIRS or diffusion correlation spectroscopy remain underused.
  • Data analysis challenges: Methods to assess signal quality and the robustness of the results, in real time and in the field, are often missing. Standardization of data analysis and probe geometry and the use of head atlases may help to facilitate global adoption of NIRS.
  • Educational challenges: The democratization of NIRS neuroimaging requires the implementation of training programs for local health workers, as well as the effective communication of findings so that the benefits are known to the rural communities benefitting from Global NIRS.

We welcome comments about any of these challenges.

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