Endogenous control of waking brain rhythms induces neuroplasticity in humans


Dr T. Ros, as above.
E-mail: t.ros@gold.ac.uk


This study explores the possibility of noninvasively inducing long-term changes in human corticomotor excitability by means of a brain–computer interface, which enables users to exert internal control over the cortical rhythms recorded from the scalp. We demonstrate that self-regulation of electroencephalogram rhythms in quietly sitting, naive humans significantly affects the subsequent corticomotor response to transcranial magnetic stimulation, producing durable and correlated changes in neurotransmission. Specifically, we show that the intrinsic suppression of alpha cortical rhythms can in itself produce robust increases in corticospinal excitability and decreases in intracortical inhibition of up to 150%, which last for at least 20 min. Our observations may have important implications for therapies of brain disorders associated with abnormal cortical rhythms, and support the use of electroencephalogram-based neurofeedback as a noninvasive tool for establishing a causal link between rhythmic cortical activities and their functions.