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  When the brain takes ‘BOLD’ steps: Real-time fMRI neurofeedback can further enhance the ability to gradually self-regulate regional brain activation

Sorger, B., Kamp, T., Weiskopf, N., Peters, J. C., & Goebel, R. (2018). When the brain takes ‘BOLD’ steps: Real-time fMRI neurofeedback can further enhance the ability to gradually self-regulate regional brain activation. Neuroscience, 378, 71-88. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.09.026.

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Sorger, Bettina1, 2, Author
Kamp, Tabea1, 2, Author
Weiskopf, Nikolaus3, 4, Author           
Peters, Judith Caroline1, 2, 5, Author
Goebel, Rainer1, 2, 5, Author
1Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands, ou_persistent22              
2Maastricht Brain Imaging Center (M-BIC), Maastricht University, the Netherlands, ou_persistent22              
3Department Neurophysics (Weiskopf), MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_2205649              
4Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, United Kingdom, ou_persistent22              
5Department of Neuroimaging and Neuromodeling, The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: (Gradual) self-regulation; (Real-time) functional magnetic resonance imaging; Brain-computer interface; Cognitive strategies; Mental tasks; Neurofeedback
 Abstract: Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) are currently explored in the context of developing alternative (motor-independent) communication and control means for the severely disabled. In such BCI systems, the user encodes a particular intention (e.g., an answer to a question or an intended action) by evoking specific mental activity resulting in a distinct brain state that can be decoded from fMRI activation. One goal in this context is to increase the degrees of freedom in encoding different intentions, i.e., to allow the BCI user to choose from as many options as possible. Recently, the ability to voluntarily modulate spatial and/or temporal blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD)-signal features has been explored implementing different mental tasks and/or different encoding time intervals, respectively. Our two-session fMRI feasibility study systematically investigated for the first time the possibility of using magnitudinal BOLD-signal features for intention encoding. Particularly, in our novel paradigm, participants (n=10) were asked to alternately self-regulate their regional brain-activation level to 30%, 60% or 90% of their maximal capacity by applying a selected activation strategy (i.e., performing a mental task, e.g., inner speech) and modulation strategies (e.g., using different speech rates) suggested by the experimenters. In a second step, we tested the hypothesis that the additional availability of feedback information on the current BOLD-signal level within a region of interest improves the gradual-self regulation performance. Therefore, participants were provided with neurofeedback in one of the two fMRI sessions. Our results show that the majority of the participants were able to gradually self-regulate regional brain activation to at least two different target levels even in the absence of neurofeedback. When provided with continuous feedback on their current BOLD-signal level, most participants further enhanced their gradual self-regulation ability. Our findings were observed across a wide variety of mental tasks and across clinical MR field strengths (i.e., at 1.5T and 3T), indicating that these findings are robust and can be generalized across mental tasks and scanner types. The suggested novel parametric activation paradigm enriches the spectrum of current rtfMRI-neurofeedback and BCI methodology and has considerable potential for fundamental and clinical neuroscience applications.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2016-09-122016-09-192018-05-15
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.09.026
PMID: 27659118
PMC: PMC5953410
Other: Epub 2016
 Degree: -



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Project information

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Project name : -
Grant ID : -
Funding program : BrainGain Smart Mix Programme
Funding organization : Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Project name : -
Grant ID : 446-09-010
Funding program : RUBICON
Funding organization : Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Project name : -
Grant ID : 0915/Z/10/Z
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Wellcome Trust
Project name : Cracking the columnar-level code in the visual hierarchy: Ultra high-field functional MRI, neuro-cognitive modelling and high-resolution brain-computer interfaces / COLUMNARCODECRACKING
Grant ID : 269853
Funding program : Funding Programme 7
Funding organization : European Commission (EC)

Source 1

Title: Neuroscience
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Oxford : Pergamon
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 378 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 71 - 88 Identifier: ISSN: 0306-4522
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925514498