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.
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.
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.
Neurofeedback therapy (NFT) has been used within a number of populations however it has not been applied or thoroughly examined as a form of cognitive rehabilitation within a stroke population. Objectives for this systematic review included: i) identifying how NFT is utilized to treat cognitive deficits following stroke, ii) examining the strength and quality of evidence to support the use of NFT as a form of cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) and iii) providing recommendations for future investigations. Searches were conducted using OVID (Medline, Health Star, Embase + Embase Classic) and PubMed databases. Additional searches were completed using the Cochrane Reviews library database, Google Scholar, the University of Toronto online library catalogue, ClinicalTrials.gov website and select journals. Searches were completed Feb/March 2015 and updated in June/July/Aug 2015. Eight studies were eligible for inclusion in this review. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they: i) were specific to a stroke population, ii) delivered CRT via a NFT protocol, iii) included participants who were affected by a cognitive deficit(s) following stroke (i.e. memory loss, loss of executive function, speech impairment etc.). NFT protocols were highly specific and varied within each study. The majority of studies identified improvements in participant cognitive deficits following the initiation of therapy. Reviewers assessed study quality using the Downs and Black Checklist for Measuring Study Quality tool; limited study quality and strength of evidence restricted generalizability of conclusions regarding the use of this therapy to the greater stroke population. Progression in this field requires further inquiry to strengthen methodology quality and study design. Future investigations should aim to standardize NFT protocols in an effort to understand the dose-response relationship between NFT and improvements in functional outcome. Future investigations should also place a large emphasis on long-term participant follow-up.
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.
Although the first experiments on alpha-neurofeedback date back nearly six decades ago, when Joseph Kamiya reported successful operant conditioning of alpha-rhythm in humans, the effectiveness of this paradigm in various experimental and clinical settings is still a matter of debate. Here, we investigated the changes in EEG patterns during a continuously administered neurofeedback of P4 alpha activity. Two days of neurofeedback training were sufficient for a significant increase in the alpha power to occur. A detailed analysis of these EEG changes showed that the alpha power rose because of an increase in the incidence rate of alpha episodes, whereas the amplitude and the duration of alpha oscillations remained unchanged. These findings suggest that neurofeedback facilitates volitional control of alpha activity onset, but alpha episodes themselves appear to be maintained automatically with no volitional control - a property overlooked by previous studies that employed continuous alpha-power neurofeedback. We propose that future research on alpha neurofeedback should explore reinforcement schedules based on detection of onsets and offsets of alpha waves, and employ these statistics for exploration and quantification of neurofeedback induced effects.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback in which real-time online fMRI signals are used to self-regulate brain function. Since its advent in 2003 significant progress has been made in fMRI neurofeedback techniques. Specifically, the use of implicit protocols, external rewards, multivariate analysis, and connectivity analysis has allowed neuroscientists to explore a possible causal involvement of modified brain activity in modified behavior. These techniques have also been integrated into groundbreaking new neurofeedback technologies, specifically decoded neurofeedback (DecNef) and functional connectivity-based neurofeedback (FCNef). By modulating neural activity and behavior, DecNef and FCNef have substantially advanced both basic and clinical research.
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.
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.
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.