Modulation of subgenual anterior cingulate cortex activity with real-time neurofeedback

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Abstract

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. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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