Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a recently developed technique that can measure
hemoglobin changes in the cerebral cortex, and fNIRS-based research in psychiatry has been progressing rapidly.
fNIRS is advantageous in its noninvasiveness, ease of administration, tolerance of small movements, inexpensiveness,
strong signal correlations with fMRI signals, and in providing imaging with excellent time resolution
and moderate spatial resolution. However, fNIRS has several disadvantages, such as low spatial resolution and
shallower measurements in brain regions compared with other functional neuroimaging techniques (e.g. functional
magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography). Therefore, fNIRS may be a candidate instrument
for clinical use in psychiatry, as it can measure brain activity in a clinical setting. Moreover, previous studies
have demonstrated that altered brain activity in the prefrontal cortex is associated with clinical symptoms and
functional outcomes in patients with schizophrenia, suggesting that fNIRS could be used as a potential biomarker.
Future studies aimed at exploring fNIRS differences in different clinical stages, longitudinal changes, medication
effects, variations during different cognitive task paradigms, cross-cultural comparisons, and applying more delicate
statistical analytic methodologies are warranted to develop more accurate biomarkers that can be applied in
clinical practice for differential diagnosis, monitoring symptoms, predicting functional outcomes, and the personalized
decision regarding treatment options in patients with schizophrenia.