Viewing neurovascular coupling through the lens of combined EEG–fNIRS: A systematic review of current methods

Michael K. Yeung (Corresponding Author), Vivian W. Chu

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Neurovascular coupling is a key physiological mechanism that occurs in the healthy human brain, and understanding this process has implications for understanding the aging and neuropsychiatric populations. Combined electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has emerged as a promising, noninvasive tool for probing neurovascular interactions in humans. However, the utility of this approach critically depends on the methodological quality used for multimodal integration. Despite a growing number of combined EEG–fNIRS applications reported in recent years, the methodological rigor of past studies remains unclear, limiting the accurate interpretation of reported findings and hindering the translational application of this multimodal approach. To fill this knowledge gap, we critically evaluated various methodological aspects of previous combined EEG–fNIRS studies performed in healthy individuals. A literature search was conducted using PubMed and PsycINFO on June 28, 2021. Studies involving concurrent EEG and fNIRS measurements in awake and healthy individuals were selected. After screening and eligibility assessment, 96 studies were included in the methodological evaluation. Specifically, we critically reviewed various aspects of participant sampling, experimental design, signal acquisition, data preprocessing, outcome selection, data analysis, and results presentation reported in these studies. Altogether, we identified several notable strengths and limitations of the existing EEG–fNIRS literature. In light of these limitations and the features of combined EEG–fNIRS, recommendations are made to improve and standardize research practices to facilitate the use of combined EEG–fNIRS when studying healthy neurovascular coupling processes and alterations in neurovascular coupling among various populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14054
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • electroencephalography
  • event-related potential
  • hemodynamic response
  • multimodal imaging
  • near-infrared spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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