NIRx Platform Updates & Extensions
Whether your lab is equipped with a NIRScout or NIRSport, there are always interesting opportunities to upgrade your fNIRS neuroimaging equipment. The upgrades we offer range from relatively inexpensive upgrades, such as new grommets or caps, to larger upgrades like an exchange of SiPD detector cards for APD detector cards, or the addition of a second NIRSport unit to create a Tandem system. Below we present you several free software upgrades as well as several hardware solutions available to our customer base.
NIRStar fNIRS Acquisition Software
The most recent version has the latest bug fixes, offers a better way of inspecting the signal quality, and offers various possibilities than previous versions.
Importantly, raw data acquired and stored in exactly the same way as in previous versions, meaning that upgrading to a new version can be done even when data collection is ongoing. Alternatively, if some lab members insist on running previous versions, several versions of NIRStar can co-exist on a single PC without any problems.
NIRStar 15.0 is available on our Help Center.
New Software (NIRSite, fOLD Toolbox)
Recently, two new tools were released to help you with your research: NIRSite and the fOLD Toolbox.
NIRSite is a visual tool developed by NIRx, that makes the creation of complicated montages a simple procedure. It provides a user-friendly way of specifying the arrangement of NIRS sources and detectors on the widely-used ICBM-152 head model. The montages can be saved, and subsequently imported into NIRStar for data acquisition or nirsLAB for analysis. More information please consult the NIRSite Getting Started Guide.
The fNIRS Optodes’ Location Decider (fOLD) Toolbox allows you to arrange your optodes based on anatomical landmarks using five optional parcellation methods. Specifically, fOLD allows the user to select brain regions-of-interest, and automatically suggests a montage and provides specific information on how well the fNIRS-channels will cover the selected regions. The fOLD Toolbox is optimized for NIRx fNIRS solutions, as the suggested montages can be exactly configured on NIRScaps. A manuscript related to fOLD has been published in Nature Scientific Reports.
The fOLD Toolbox can be downloaded from Github.
The NIRx Help Center is continuously updated and provides an increasing amount of informative resources. For example, new video lectures have been put online on short-channels and data analysis, as well as updated versions of the Getting Started Guides (published in Summer 2017).
Switching from standard ActiCap grommets to the new Spring-loaded grommets can significantly speedup setup time.
Spring-loaded grommets improve signal quality, as the spring inside the grommet tops gently pushes the optodes through the hair, allowing for better contact with the scalp.
Spring-loaded grommets will be put to best use on thickly haired regions of the head, such as the Parietal, Temporal, or Occipital regions.
NIRx offers cap sizes to fit all head sizes, from infants to adult.
Increasing the number of caps in the lab can allow for multiple experiments to be run, all pre-setup for the experiment's necessary montage. This greatly increases lab efficiency.
Be sure to include the desired number of additional grommets for any additional cap.
Parallel Port Replicator
Multi-modal measurements, for example combining fNIRS with EEG, requires the syncing of event triggers (event markers) to all of recording devices used in your experiment.
The Parallel Port Replicator allows you to send one trigger signal, from the hardware or software of choice into 4 or more separate measurement modalities.
Complete with a simple USB power port, this device allows you to accurately compare multi-modal data in response to stimulus time points.
Subject Preparation Kit
The subject preparation kit offers many tools that can aid in improving the signal quality. The kit includes: Velcro straps, optode-stabilizers, cotton swabs, ultrasound gel, syringes, and a headlamp in order to part the hair of subjects when it is in the way. Additional cable trees (cable organizer), labels and labeling stickers, complete the kit.
All items from the kit can be purchased separately.
Dual-tip Sources and Detectors
Dual-tip optodes offer several advantages over the Standard single-tip optode.
The main physical difference is that dual-tip optodes have twice the capacity to illuminate light out (sources) or receive light (detectors). This larger area of access increases the amount of light that can be measured, resulting in a more consistent signal.
In addition, many subjects find dual-tip optodes more comfortable, because with two tips the force of impact is spread. Finally, dual-tip optodes are much faster to set-up when combined with spring-loaded grommets. By moving the optode in a rotary motion, hair can be swept away in a simple and effective manner.
Overall, this makes the dual-tip optodes more efficient in both signal than single-tip optodes, and setup up time when combined with spring-loaded grommets.
NIRx offers optode solutions for all types of fNIRS studies. With blunt-tipped, flat-tipped, and MRI/TMS compatible optodes, whatever you study necessitates can be acquired through NIRx.
If interested in specialized optodes, please note that it may also be important to include specialized caps or grommets. For example, flat-tip optodes should be used with infant caps, and MRI-compatible probes require specialized grommets.
Each NIRx system can be modularly upgraded. This can be either in optode number or source type or photodiode type.
Detector and Source electronics can be upgraded
Optode bundles can be increased in number
Whole system Chassis can be upgraded
While less modular, the NIRSport can be upgraded by the addition of a second NIRSport unit. Both units can be operated in Tandem mode, effectively doubling the amount of sources and detectors!
Please contact NIRx Support or your local distributor to help configure the ideal upgrade.