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Does neurofeedback promote an optimal reorganization of the brain connectivity?

Funded by Ramsay Fund. 2022-2022

Neurofeedback capitalizes on neuroimaging to modulate the stimuli guiding some training. Neurofeedback systems primarily aim at modulating the behavioural outcome, whilst concomitantly hope for the best reorganization to occur subsequent to the training. Whilst behavioural modulation is necessarily consequence of some plastic changes in the brain, it is known that, by means of plasticity, different reorganization strategies may occur in the brain following any form of training, including neurofeedback. The question is therefore not so much whether neurofeedback alters the brain, but whether the promoted change in brain connectivity is the one desired for the application at hand. Many existing neurofeedback systems have limited capabilities to isolate the actual brain-behavior signal used for the feedback, obtained through the neuroimage system, amidst multiple categories of noises (Sulzer et al. 2013). The key is that although brain function can be observed utilizing neuroimaging, at least with some uncertainty, but it cannot be directly accessed or manipulated, i.e. currently we cannot surgically or therapeutically rewire the brain. Further, the brain is plastic, continually changing its functions, and it is impossible to isolate living experience from the regular training. In other words, there is thus far no evidence nor guarantee that neurofeedback-evoked brain changes result in the desired brain reorganization.

This research conducts simulations oriented to give evidence that brain changes occur as a consequence of neurofeedback, but critically, that we can induce a specific target reorganization in the form of a desired connectivity pattern. If successful, this will provide fundamental evidence of the utility of neurofeedback training, and importantly about the capacity to modulate brain activity in a controlled fashion. This has substantial implications and consequences for fields such as neurorehabilitation, neuroergonomics, neuromarketing, neurology, and neuropsychology among others