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Investigating attention and visual brain processing through neurofeedback intervention

English title Investigating attention and visual brain processing through neurofeedback intervention
Applicant Michels Lars
Number 182803
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Neuroradiologie Departement Medizinische Universitätsspital Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.06.2019 - 31.05.2022
Approved amount 423'926.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Psychology

Keywords (5)

real-time fMRI; attention; visual processing; electroencephalography ; functional MRI

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Neurofeedback ist eine Methode, bei der «Echtzeithirnaktivierung» auf einem Computerbildschirm dargestellt wird. Dem Teilnehmer ist es dabei möglich, durch Rückmeldung der eigenen Hirnaktivität eine bessere Selbstregulation zu erreichen. Bisher wurde der Einfluss von Neurofeedback auf Aufmerksamkeit und visuelle Verarbeitung nur unzureichend untersucht. In diesem Projekt soll in gesunden Erwachsenen getestet werden, ob Neurofeedback (basierend auf funktioneller Magnetresonanztomographie, fMRT) langfristige Effekte auf Wahrnehmung und Aufmerksamkeit hat und ob Neurofeedback zu veränderterer Hirnfunktion führt. Die Ergebnisse werden im Kontext neuester Studien zu Aufmerksamkeit und visueller Verarbeitung diskutiert. Die Resultate sollen ein Wegbereiter für neue Studien sein, in denen der Einfluss von Neurofeedback bei Patienten mit gestörter Aufmerksamkeit und visueller Verarbeitung untersucht werden soll.
Lay summary

Content and aims

Attention is a mechanism mediating cognitive control and perception. Brain imaging studies have identified prefrontal and parietal brain regions as being crucially involved in attention. Attention related to executive function consistently involves the insular cortex. In contrast, visual processing related to discrimination is primarily processed by the early visual cortex and less dependent on the prefrontal cortex. In humans, these results were primarily obtained using correlational brain imaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this project, we aim at providing complementary insights into these processes by non-invasively interfering with ongoing attention and visual processing and subsequently assessing the behavioral and neural impact of this modulation. This will be accomplished by training healthy participants’ voluntary control over their own activity in attention and visual brain areas using real-time fMRI (rtfMRI) neurofeedback. Additional control groups will ensure physiological specificity of the training and exclude non-specific effects. Subsequently, we will assess longitudinally the impact of such training on brain function and behavior. We hypothesize that neurofeedback training results in brain and behavioral changes that are specific to the trained domain. This project provides new insights into the impact of rtfMRI neurofeedback on neural processes underlying attention and visual processing. If participants are able to improve attention and visual processing by rtfMRI neurofeedback training, this technique could help to enhance performance in patients with reduced levels of attention.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.01.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
169250 Impact of deafferentation on descending pain control systems 01.04.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Attention is a mechanism mediating cognitive control and perception. Brain imaging studies have identified prefrontal and parietal brain regions as being crucially involved in attention. Attention related to executive function consistently involves the insular cortex. In contrast, visual processing related to discrimination is primarily processed by the early visual cortex and less dependent on the prefrontal cortex. In humans, these results were primarily obtained using correlational brain imaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this project, we aim at providing complementary insights into these processes by non-invasively interfering with ongoing attention and visual processing and subsequently assessing the behavioral and neural impact of this modulation. This will be accomplished by training healthy participants’ voluntary control over their own activity in attention and visual brain areas using real-time fMRI (rtfMRI) neurofeedback. Specifically, one group will be trained to up-regulate the right anterior insular cortex (RAIC) and the other group will be trained to up-regulate the primary visual cortex. Additional control groups will ensure physiological specificity of the training and exclude non-specific effects. Subsequently, we will assess longitudinally the impact of such training on brain function (i.e., examining functional connectivity and event-related potentials (ERPs) with fMRI and electroencephalography, respectively) and on behavior (i.e., comparing pre- and post-training performance during an attention and a visual discrimination task). We hypothesize that neurofeedback training results in brain and behavioral changes that are specific to the trained domain. Specifically, we hypothesize that training of the RAIC and early visual cortex will lead to higher directed functional connectivity and to higher task-specific performance. We also expect an increase in the early (N100) ERP component after training of early visual cortex, and an increase in the late (P300) ERP component after training of RAIC.This project provides new multimodal insights into the neural processes underlying attention and visual processing, and how these processes can be modulated by rtfMRI neurofeedback. If participants are able to improve attention and visual processing by rtfMRI neurofeedback training, this technique will help to enhance performance in patients with reduced levels of attention, such as patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or mild cognitive impairment, and visual processing in patients with impairments in vision.
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