Neurofeedback (NFB) also called neurotherapy or neurobiofeedback; is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity most commonly electroencephalography (EEG) in an attempt to teach self-regulation of brain function. Typically, sensors are placed on the scalp to measure electrical activity, with measurements displayed using video displays or sound.
Less than one hour of brain training with neurofeedback leads to a strengthening of neural connections and communication among brain areas. This is the main finding of a new study conducting at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR); published today in Neuroimage. According to the authors, the study may pave the way for the optimization; development of therapeutic approaches against stroke and Parkinson’s, for example.
Neurofeedback has considered a promising way to regulate dysfunctional brain areas with disorders; such as chronic pain and depression, for example. With this technique, the magnetic resonance equipment helps individuals to have access to their own brain activity in real time and quickly gain control over it.
Thirty-six healthy subjects participated in the study in which the goal was to increase the activity of brain regions involved in hand movements. However, instead of actually move their hand; participants asked to only imagine the movement, in total rest. Nineteen of them received the real brain training and the remaining seventeen trained with placebo neurofeedback, for comparisons purposes.
The brain training
Immediately before and after the brain training, which lasted around 30 minutes; their neural networks scanned in order to investigate the impact of the neurofeedback (or placebo) on brain wiring and communication; also known as structural and functional connectivity, respectively.
The results show that the corpus callosum the major cerebral bridge that connects the right and left hemispheres exhibited increased integrity; the neural network controlling the movements of the body became strengthened. It seems that the whole system became more robust. Likewise, the training also had a positive impact on the default mode network, a brain network which is impaired after stroke, Parkinson’s and depression, for example. These changes were not observed in the control group.
“We showed that the neurofeedback can considered a powerful tool to induce brain changes at record speed. Now, our goal is to develop new studies to test whether patients with neurological disorders can also benefit from it,” concludes Fernanda Tovar Moll; president of IDOR and leader of the study.