Modulation of subgenual anterior cingulate cortex activity with real-time neurofeedback. Hum Brain Mapp

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Human Brain Mapping (Impact Factor: 5.97). 01/2011; 32(1):22-31. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20997
Source: PubMed


The advent of real-time neurofeedback techniques has allowed us to begin to map the controllability of sensory and cognitive and, more recently, affective centers in the brain. The subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sACC) is thought to be involved in generation of affective states and has been implicated in psychopathology. In this study, we examined whether individuals could use real-time fMRI neurofeedback to modulate sACC activity. Following a localizer task used to identify an sACC region of interest, an experimental group of eight women participated in four scans: (1) a pretraining scan in which they were asked to decrease activity in the sACC without neurofeedback; (2) two training scans in which sACC neurofeedback was presented along with instructions to decrease sACC activity; and (3) a neurofeedback-free post-training scan. An additional nine women in a yoked feedback control group saw sACC activity from the participants in the experimental group. Activity in the sACC was significantly reduced during neurofeedback training in the experimental group, but not in the control group. This training effect in the experimental group, however, did not generalize to the neurofeedback-free post-training scan. A psychophysiological interaction analysis showed decreased correlation in the experimental group relative to the sham control group between activity in the sACC and the posterior cingulate cortex during neurofeedback training relative to neurofeedback-free scans. The finding that individuals can down-modulate the sACC shows that a primary emotion center in which functional abnormality has been strongly implicated in affective disorders can be controlled with the aid of neurofeedback.

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    • "The localization criterion for the region serving as region-of-interest (ROI) for neurofeedback has been widely variable. Some studies focused on specific anatomically defined regions such as the somatomotor cortex (deCharms et al 2004), anterior cingulate cortex (Weiskopf et al 2003), amygdala (Posse et al 2003) and the insula (Posse et al 2003, Weiskopf et al 2003, deCharms et al 2004, 2005, Caria et al 2007, Hamilton et al 2011, Subramanian et al 2011, Ruiz et al 2013). Others preferred to use functionally defined ROIs as target for neuromodulation (deCharms et al 2005, Hamilton et al 2011, Subramanian et al 2011, Ruiz et al 2013, Greer et al 2014). "
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    • "Providing pseudo-feedback for example, with the control group receiving feedback of the experimental group's neural activity rather than their own (e.g. Hamilton et al., 2011), or their own feedback from an unrelated brain region (Zotev et al., 2011), may be more appropriate than simply including a group that do not receive any feedback, as providing pseudo-feedback will generate an environment and elicit cognitions or emotions that more closely resemble those in the experimental condition. "

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    • "Recent developments in fMRI have enabled researchers to explore its potential for use as a treatment itself, rather than simply aiding treatment with psychological or pharmacological therapies. A number of recent studies have shown that when provided with real-time feedback of blood oxygen level – dependent signals while in the scanner, healthy participants are able to regulate the activity and connectivity of brain structures involved in emotion processing, many of which have been implicated in MDD.128–131 Building on this, it has been proposed that neurofeedback may be able to correct functional abnormalities seen in these networks in MDD132 by allowing patients to learn how to regulate activity, thereby correcting the impaired regulation present in the disorder. One recent small-scale pilot study of this therapy has shown promising results.133 "
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