Haemodynamics-based neuroimaging is widely used to study brain function. Regional blood flow changes characteristic of neurovascular coupling provide an important marker of neuronal activation. However, changes in systemic physiological parameters such as blood pressure and concentration of CO2 can also affect regional blood flow and may confound haemodynamics-based neuroimaging. Measurements with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) may additionally be confounded by blood flow and oxygenation changes in extracerebral tissue layers. Here we investigate these confounds using an extended version of an existing computational model of cerebral physiology, 'BrainSignals'. Our results show that confounding from systemic physiological factors is able to produce misleading haemodynamic responses in both positive and negative directions. By applying the model to data from previous fNIRS studies, we demonstrate that such potentially deceptive responses can indeed occur in at least some experimental scenarios. It is therefore important to record the major potential confounders in the course of fNIRS experiments. Our model may then allow the observed behaviour to be attributed among the potential causes and hence reduce identification errors.