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Concept: Neurofeedback

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Despite partial success, communication has remained impossible for persons suffering from complete motor paralysis but intact cognitive and emotional processing, a state called complete locked-in state (CLIS). Based on a motor learning theoretical context and on the failure of neuroelectric brain-computer interface (BCI) communication attempts in CLIS, we here report BCI communication using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and an implicit attentional processing procedure. Four patients suffering from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-two of them in permanent CLIS and two entering the CLIS without reliable means of communication-learned to answer personal questions with known answers and open questions all requiring a “yes” or “no” thought using frontocentral oxygenation changes measured with fNIRS. Three patients completed more than 46 sessions spread over several weeks, and one patient (patient W) completed 20 sessions. Online fNIRS classification of personal questions with known answers and open questions using linear support vector machine (SVM) resulted in an above-chance-level correct response rate over 70%. Electroencephalographic oscillations and electrooculographic signals did not exceed the chance-level threshold for correct communication despite occasional differences between the physiological signals representing a “yes” or “no” response. However, electroencephalogram (EEG) changes in the theta-frequency band correlated with inferior communication performance, probably because of decreased vigilance and attention. If replicated with ALS patients in CLIS, these positive results could indicate the first step towards abolition of complete locked-in states, at least for ALS.

Concepts: Neuroscience, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Electroencephalography, Evoked potential, Electromyography, Answer, Support vector machine, Neurofeedback

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While human brains are specialized for complex and variable real world tasks, most neuroscience studies reduce environmental complexity, which limits the range of behaviours that can be explored. Motivated to overcome this limitation, we conducted a large-scale experiment with electroencephalography (EEG) based brain-computer interface (BCI) technology as part of an immersive multi-media science-art installation. Data from 523 participants were collected in a single night. The exploratory experiment was designed as a collective computer game where players manipulated mental states of relaxation and concentration with neurofeedback targeting modulation of relative spectral power in alpha and beta frequency ranges. Besides validating robust time-of-night effects, gender differences and distinct spectral power patterns for the two mental states, our results also show differences in neurofeedback learning outcome. The unusually large sample size allowed us to detect unprecedented speed of learning changes in the power spectrum (~ 1 min). Moreover, we found that participants' baseline brain activity predicted subsequent neurofeedback beta training, indicating state-dependent learning. Besides revealing these training effects, which are relevant for BCI applications, our results validate a novel platform engaging art and science and fostering the understanding of brains under natural conditions.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Sample size, Neuroscience, Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Magnetoencephalography, Neurofeedback

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A binaural beat can be produced by presenting two tones of a differing frequency, one to each ear. Such auditory stimulation has been suggested to influence behaviour and cognition via the process of cortical entrainment. However, research so far has only shown the frequency following responses in the traditional EEG frequency ranges of delta, theta and gamma. Hence a primary aim of this research was to ascertain whether it would be possible to produce clear changes in the EEG in either the alpha or beta frequency ranges. Such changes, if possible, would have a number of important implications as well as potential applications. A secondary goal was to track any observable changes in the EEG throughout the entrainment epoch to gain some insight into the nature of the entrainment effects on any changes in an effort to identify more effective entrainment regimes. Twenty two healthy participants were recruited and randomly allocated to one of two groups, each of which was exposed to a distinct binaural beat frequency for ten 1-minute epochs. The first group listened to an alpha binaural beat of 10Hz and the second to a beta binaural beat of 20Hz. EEG was recorded from the left and right temporal regions during pre-exposure baselines, stimulus exposure epochs and post-exposure baselines. Analysis of changes in broad-band and narrow-band amplitudes, and frequency showed no effect of binaural beat frequency eliciting a frequency following effect in the EEG. Possible mediating factors are discussed and a number of recommendations are made regarding future studies, exploring entrainment effects from a binaural beat presentation.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Electroencephalography, Acoustics, Sound, Meditation, Binaural beats, Neurofeedback, Mind machine

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Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a significant problem for cancer patients, and there are limited treatment options for this often debilitating condition. Neuromodulatory interventions could be a novel modality for patients trying to manage CIPN symptoms; however, they are not yet the standard of care. This study examined whether electroencephalogram (EEG) neurofeedback (NFB) could alleviate CIPN symptoms in survivors.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Randomized controlled trial, Electroencephalography, Neurotechnology, Peripheral neuropathy, Binaural beats, Neurofeedback, Mind machine

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Using neurofeedback (NF), individuals can learn to modulate their own brain activity, in most cases electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythms. Although a large body of literature reports positive effects of NF training on behavior and cognitive functions, there are hardly any reports on how participants can successfully learn to gain control over their own brain activity. About one third of people fail to gain significant control over their brain signals even after repeated training sessions. The reasons for this failure are still largely unknown. In this context, we investigated the effects of spontaneous mental strategies on NF performance. Twenty healthy participants performed either a SMR (sensorimotor rhythm, 12-15 Hz) based or a Gamma (40-43 Hz) based NF training over ten sessions. After the first and the last training session, they were asked to write down which mental strategy they have used for self-regulating their EEG. After the first session, all participants reported the use of various types of mental strategies such as visual strategies, concentration, or relaxation. After the last NF training session, four participants of the SMR group reported to employ no specific strategy. These four participants showed linear improvements in NF performance over the ten training sessions. In contrast, participants still reporting the use of specific mental strategies in the last NF session showed no changes in SMR based NF performance over the ten sessions. This effect could not be observed in the Gamma group. The Gamma group showed no prominent changes in Gamma power over the NF training sessions, regardless of the mental strategies used. These results indicate that successful SMR based NF performance is associated with implicit learning mechanisms. Participants stating vivid reports on strategies to control their SMR probably overload cognitive resources, which might be counterproductive in terms of increasing SMR power.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cognition, Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Learning, Delta wave, Neurofeedback

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Brain/Computer Interaction (BCI) devices are designed to alter neural signals and, thereby, mental activity. This study was a randomized, waitlist (TAU) controlled trial of a BCI, EEG neurofeedback training (NF), in patients with chronic PTSD to explore the capacity of NF to reduce PTSD symptoms and increase affect regulation capacities.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Neurofeedback

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Brain activity is complex; a reflection of its structural and functional organization. Among other measures of complexity, the fractal dimension is emerging as being sensitive to neuronal damage secondary to neurological and psychiatric diseases. Here, we calculated Higuchi’s fractal dimension (HFD) in resting-state eyes-closed electroencephalography (EEG) recordings from 41 healthy controls (age: 20-89 years) and 67 Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients (age: 50-88 years), to investigate whether HFD is sensitive to brain activity changes typical in healthy aging and in AD. Additionally, we considered whether AD-accelerating effects of the copper fraction not bound to ceruloplasmin (also called “free” copper) are reflected in HFD fluctuations. The HFD measure showed an inverted U-shaped relationship with age in healthy people (R2 = .575, p < .001). Onset of HFD decline appeared around the age of 60, and was most evident in central-parietal regions. In this region, HFD decreased with aging stronger in the right than in the left hemisphere (p = .006). AD patients demonstrated reduced HFD compared to age- and education-matched healthy controls, especially in temporal-occipital regions. This was associated with decreasing cognitive status as assessed by mini-mental state examination, and with higher levels of non-ceruloplasmin copper. Taken together, our findings show that resting-state EEG complexity increases from youth to maturity and declines in healthy, aging individuals. In AD, brain activity complexity is further reduced in correlation with cognitive impairment. In addition, elevated levels of non-ceruloplasmin copper appear to accelerate the reduction of neural activity complexity. Overall, HDF appears to be a proper indicator for monitoring EEG-derived brain activity complexity in healthy and pathological aging.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, Neurology, Electroencephalography, Evoked potential, Electromyography, Gamma wave, Neurofeedback

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Real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) is used for neurofeedback training (NFT). Preliminary results suggest that it can help patients to control their symptoms. This study uses rtfMRI NFT for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence.

Concepts: Spin, Randomized controlled trial, Alcoholism, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Control, Neurofeedback

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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).

Concepts: Anxiety, Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Medical tests, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Schizophrenia, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Neurofeedback

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Neurofeedback (NFB) involves a brain-computer interface that allows users to learn to voluntarily control their cortical oscillations, reflected in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Although NFB is being pioneered as a noninvasive tool for treating brain disorders, there is insufficient evidence on the mechanism of its impact on brain function. Furthermore, the dominant rhythm of the human brain is the alpha oscillation (8-12Hz), yet its behavioral significance remains multifaceted and largely correlative. In this study with 34 healthy participants, we examined whether during the performance of an attentional task, the functional connectivity of distinct fMRI networks would be plastically altered after a 30-min session of voluntary reduction of alpha rhythm (n=17) versus a sham-feedback condition (n=17). We reveal that compared to sham-feedback, NFB induced an increase of connectivity within regions of the salience network involved in intrinsic alertness (dorsal anterior cingulate), which was detectable 30min after termination of training. The increase in salience network (default-mode network) connectivity was negatively (positively) correlated with changes in ‘on task’ mind-wandering as well as resting state alpha rhythm. Crucially, we observed a causal dependence between alpha rhythm synchronization during NFB and its subsequent change at resting state, not exhibited by the SHAM group. Our findings provide neurobehavioral evidence for the brain’s exquisite functional plasticity, and for a temporally direct impact of NFB on a key cognitive control network, suggesting a promising basis for its use to treat cognitive disorders under physiological conditions.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroanatomy, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Neurofeedback