Real-World fNIRS Brain Activity Measurements during Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is often praised for its portability and robustness towards motion artifacts. While an increasing body of fNIRS research in real-world environments is emerging, most fNIRS studies are still conducted in laboratories, and do not incorporate larger movements performed by participants. This study extends fNIRS applications in real-world environments by conducting a single-subject observational study of a yoga practice with considerable movement (Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga) in a participant’s natural environment (their apartment). The results show differences in cognitive load (prefrontal cortex activation) when comparing technically complex postures to relatively simple ones, but also some contrasts with surprisingly little difference. This study explores the boundaries of real-world cognitive load measurements, and contributes to the empirical knowledge base of using fNIRS in realistic settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of fNIRS brain imaging recorded during any moving yoga practice. Future work with fNIRS should take advantage of this by accomplishing studies with considerable real-world movement.