We describe the behavior of linearity in diffuse imaging by evaluating the differences between time-resolved images produced by photons arriving at the detector at different times. Two approaches are considered: Monte Carlo simulations and experimental results. The images of two complete opaque bars embedded in a transparent or in a turbid medium with a slab geometry are analyzed; the optical properties of the turbid medium sample are close to those of breast tissue. A simple linearity test was designed involving a direct comparison between the intensity profile produced by two bars scanned at the same time and the intensity profile obtained by adding two profiles of each bar scanned one at a time. It is shown that the linearity improves substantially when short time of flight photons are used in the imaging process, but even then the nonlinear behavior prevails. As the edge response function (ERF) has been used widely for testing the spatial resolution in imaging systems, the main implication of a time dependent linearity is the weakness of the linearity assumption when evaluating the spatial resolution through the ERF in diffuse imaging systems, and the need to evaluate the spatial resolution by other methods.
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© 2016 Optical Society of America.