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2d - Neurofeedback using functional MRI

Tibor Auer and Jens Frahm

The goal of this project is to establish BOLD fMRI neurofeedback as a novel method for controlled modulation of human cortical activity. This innovative neurobionic closed-loop approach complements neuro-stimulation by transcranial magnetic and electric fields (SP. 1d) and promises a new treatment option for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows for noninvasive studies of the structure and function of the human brain (e.g., see Frahm et al., 1992; Ogawa et al., 1992; Henning et al., 2005; Bestmann et al., 2005). Recent advances have rendered real-time applications possible so that image reconstruction, transfer, and analysis are accomplished within the time frame necessary for acquisition of a single volumetric dataset – typically 2 seconds. Real-time functional MRI provides the basis for a novel kind of neurofeedback using the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) MRI signal intensity as a measure of neural activity (Weiskopf et al., 2003; deCharms et al., 2004; Caria et al., 2007; Lütcke & Frahm 2007). During fMRI the subject is continuously informed about the current level of activity in a specified brain region, e.g. by means of graphical interface, and learns to regulate this activity voluntarily. So far, our mechanistic understanding of BOLD fMRI neurofeedback is still very limited and a comprehensive survey of which brain areas are amenable to neurofeedback is lacking. To clarify these issues will be the first aim of subproject 2d.



Fig. SP2d) BOLD fMRI neurofeedback (left) as implemented in our laboratory and (right) time courses in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) (black trace) and parietal cortex (dotted trace) for a representative subject before and after neurofeedback (top and bottom, respectively). After training, the subject achieved significant up-regulation of brain activity in ACC during activation periods (red) compared to rest (white).

Belongs to Group(s):
NMR in living systems

Is part of  Section 2 

Members working within this Project:
Auer, Tibor 
Frahm, Jens  

Selected Publication(s):

Dewiputri, WI, and Auer, T (2013).
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Neurofeedback: Implementations and Applications
Malays J Med Sci. 20(5):5--15.

Auer, T, and Frahm, J (2011).
Confounding factors in neurofeedback training based on fMRI of motor imagery
Neuroscience Letters 500S:e32.

Auer, T, Schweizer, R, and Frahm, J (2011).
An iterative two-threshold analysis for single-subject functional MRI of the human brain
Eur Radiol 21:2369-2387.