Using the visible Chinese human data set, which faithfully represents human anatomy, we visualize the light propagation in the head in detail based on Monte Carlo simulation. The simulation is verified to agree with published experimental results in terms of a differential path-length factor. The spatial sensitivity profile turns out to seem like a fat tropical fish with strong distortion along the folding cerebral surface. The sensitive brain region covers the gray matter and extends to the superficial white matter, leading to a large penetration depth (>3 cm). Finally, the optimal source-detector separation is suggested to be narrowed down to 3-3.5 cm, while the sensitivity of the detected signal to brain activation reaches the peak of 8%. These results indicate that the cerebral cortex folding geometry actually has substantial effects on light propagation, which should be necessarily considered for applications of functional near-infrared spectroscopy.
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