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Social reward improves the voluntary control over localized brain activity in fMRI-based neurofeedback training

By Krystyna Anna Mathiak, Krystyna Anna Mathiak, Krystyna Anna Mathiak, Eliza Maysun Alawi, Eliza Maysun Alawi, Yury eKoush, Yury eKoush, Yury eKoush, Yury eKoush, Miriam eDyck, Miriam eDyck, Julia S Cordes, Julia S Cordes, Tilman eGaber, Tilman eGaber, Florian D Zepf, Florian D Zepf, Nicola ePalomero-Gallagher, Pegah eSarkheil, Pegah eSarkheil, Susanne eBergert, Susanne eBergert, Mikhail eZvyagintsev, Mikhail eZvyagintsev and Klaus eMathiak and Klaus eMathiak


Neurofeedback (NF) based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) allows voluntary regulation of the activity in a selected brain region. For the training of this regulation, a well-designed feedback system is required. Social reward may serve as an effective incentive in NF paradigms, but its efficiency has not yet been tested. Therefore, we developed a social reward NF paradigm and assessed it in comparison with a typical visual NF paradigm (moving bar).We trained 24 healthy participants, on three consecutive days, to control activation in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) with fMRI-based NF. In the social feedback group, an avatar gradually smiled when ACC activity increased, whereas in the standard feedback group, a moving bar indicated the activation level. To assess a transfer of the NF training both groups were asked to up-regulate their brain activity without receiving feedback immediately before and after the NF training (pre- and post-test). Finally, the effect of the acquired NF training on ACC function was evaluated in a cognitive interference task (Simon task) during the pre- and post-test.Social reward led to stronger activity in the ACC and reward-related areas during the NF training when compared to standard feedback. After the training, both groups were able to regulate ACC without receiving feedback, with a trend for stronger responses in the social feedback group. Moreover, despite a lack of behavioral differences, significant higher ACC activations emerged in the cognitive interference task, reflecting a stronger generalization of the NF training on cognitive interference processing after social feedback.Social reward can increase self-regulation in fMRI-based NF and strengthen its effects on neural processing in related tasks, such as cognitive interference. An advantage of social feedback is that a direct external reward is provided as in natural social interactions, opening perspectives for implicit learning

Topics: Neurofeedback, Reward, social communication, Avatar, real-time fMRI, simon task, Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry, RC321-571
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00136
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