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Keywords:

  • electroencephalogram;
  • neurofeedback;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • functional MRI;
  • functional connectivity

Objective

Electroencephalographic (EEG) neurofeedback training has been shown to produce plastic modulations in salience network and default mode network functional connectivity in healthy individuals. In this study, we investigated whether a single session of neurofeedback training aimed at the voluntary reduction of alpha rhythm (8–12 Hz) amplitude would be related to differences in EEG network oscillations, functional MRI (fMRI) connectivity, and subjective measures of state anxiety and arousal in a group of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Method

Twenty-one individuals with PTSD related to childhood abuse underwent 30 min of EEG neurofeedback training preceded and followed by a resting-state fMRI scan.

Results

Alpha desynchronizing neurofeedback was associated with decreased alpha amplitude during training, followed by a significant increase (‘rebound’) in resting-state alpha synchronization. This rebound was linked to increased calmness, greater salience network connectivity with the right insula, and enhanced default mode network connectivity with bilateral posterior cingulate, right middle frontal gyrus, and left medial prefrontal cortex.

Conclusion

Our study represents a first step in elucidating the potential neurobehavioural mechanisms mediating the effects of neurofeedback treatment on regulatory systems in PTSD. Moreover, it documents for the first time a spontaneous EEG ‘rebound’ after neurofeedback, pointing to homeostatic/compensatory mechanisms operating in the brain.