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fNIRS Studies of Individuals with Speech and Language Impairment Underreport Sociodemographics: A Systematic Review.

Neuropsychology Review 2023 September 26
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a promising tool for scientific discovery and clinical application. However, its utility depends upon replicable reporting. We evaluate reporting of sociodemographics in fNIRS studies of speech and language impairment and asked the following: (1) Do refereed fNIRS publications report participant sociodemographics? (2) For what reasons are participants excluded from analysis? This systematic review was preregistered with PROSPERO (CRD42022342959) and followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Searches in August 2022 included the terms: (a) fNIRS or functional near-infrared spectroscopy or NIRS or near-infrared spectroscopy, (b) speech or language, and (c) disorder or impairment or delay. Searches yielded 38 qualifying studies from 1997 to present. Eight studies (5%) reported at least partial information on race or ethnicity. Few studies reported SES (26%) or language background (47%). Most studies reported geographic location (100%) and gender/sex (89%). Underreporting of sociodemographics in fNIRS studies of speech and language impairment hinders the generalizability of findings. Replicable reporting is imperative for advancing the utility of fNIRS.

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