Developing near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) parameter recovery techniques to more specifically resolve brain physiology from that of the overlying tissue is an important part of improving the clinical utility of the technology. The Valsalva maneuver (VM) involves forced expiration against a closed glottis causing widespread venous congestion within the context of a fall in cardiac output. Due to the specific anatomical confines and metabolic demands of the brain we believe a properly executed VM has the ability to separate haemodynamic activity of brain tissue from that of the overlying scalp as observed by NIRS, and confirmed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Healthy individuals performed a series of standing maximum effort VMs under separate observation by frequency domain near-infrared spectroscopy (FD-NIRS) and fMRI. Nine individuals completed the clinical protocol (6 males, age 21-40). During the VMs, brain and extracranial tissue targeted signal were significantly different (opposite direction of change) in both fMRI and NIRS (p=0.00025 and 0.00115 respectively), with robust cross correlation of parameters between modalities. Four of these individuals performed further VMs after infiltrating 2% xylocaine/1:100,000 epinephrine (vasoconstrictor) into scalp tissue beneath the probes. No significant difference in the cerebrally derived parameters was observed. The maximum effort VM has the ability to separate NIRS observable physiology of the brain from the overlying extracranial tissue. Observations made by this FD cerebral NIRS device are comparable with fMRI in this context.