Pain is a complex experience that involves sensation, emotion, and cognition. The subjectivity of the traditional pain measurement tools has expedited the interest in developing neuroimaging techniques to monitor pain objectively. Among noninvasive neuroimaging techniques, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has balanced spatial and temporal resolution; yet, it is portable, quiet, and cost-effective. These features enable fNIRS to image the cortical mechanisms of pain in a clinical environment. In this article, we evaluated pain neuroimaging studies that used the fNIRS technique in the past decade. Starting from the experimental design, we reviewed the regions of interest, probe localization, data processing, and primary findings of these existing fNIRS studies. We also discussed the fNIRS imaging’s potential as a brain surveillance technique for pain, in combination with artificial intelligence and extended reality techniques. We concluded that fNIRS is a brain imaging technique with great potential for objective pain assessment in the clinical environment.Copyright © 2021 International Association for the Study of Pain.
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