Modulation of Functionally Localized Right Insular Cortex Activity Using Real-Time fMRI-based Neurofeedback
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2013
Source ID: shanti-sources-34011
Collection: Biofeedback Devices and Wearables
Abstract: The capacity for subjects to learn to volitionally control localized brain activity using neurofeedback is actively being investigated. We aimed to investigate the ability of healthy volunteers to quickly learn to use visual feedback during real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI) to modulate brain activity within their anterior right insular cortex (RIC) localized during a blink suppression task, an approach of possible interest in the use of rtfMRI to reduce urges. The RIC region of interest (RIC-ROI) was functionally localized using a blink suppression task, and blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal changes within RIC-ROI used to create a constantly updating display fed back to the subject in the scanner. Subjects were instructed to use emotional imagery to try and increase activity within RIC-ROI during four feedback training runs (FB1–FB4). A “control” run (CNTRL) before training and a “transfer” run (XSFR) after training were performed without feedback to assess for baseline abilities and learning effects. Fourteen participants completed all neurofeedback training runs. At the group-level, increased BOLD activity was seen in the anterior RIC during all the FB runs, but a significant increase in the functionally defined RIC-ROI was only attained during FB2. In atlas-defined insular cortex ROIs, significant increases were seen bilaterally during the CNTRL, FB1, FB2, and FB4 runs. Increased activity within the insular cortices did not show lateralization. Training did, however, result in a significant increase in functional connectivity between the RIC-ROI and the medial frontal gyrus when comparing FB4 to FB1. Since neurofeedback training did not lead to an increase in BOLD signal across all feedback runs, we suggest that learning to control one’s brain activity in this fashion may require longer or repeated rtfMRI training sessions.