Neurofeedback (NFB) involves a brain-computer interface that allows users to learn to voluntarily control their cortical oscillations, reflected in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Although NFB is being pioneered as a noninvasive tool for treating brain disorders, there is insufficient evidence on the mechanism of its impact on brain function. Furthermore, the dominant rhythm of the human brain is the alpha oscillation (8-12 Hz), yet its behavioral significance remains multifaceted and largely correlative. In this study with 34 healthy participants, we examined whether during the performance of an attentional task, the functional connectivity of distinct fMRI networks would be plastically altered after a 30-min session of voluntary reduction of alpha rhythm (n=17) versus a sham-feedback condition (n=17). We reveal that compared to sham-feedback, NFB induced an increase of connectivity within regions of the salience network involved in intrinsic alertness (dorsal anterior cingulate), which was detectable 30 min after termination of training. The increase in salience network (default-mode network) connectivity was negatively (positively) correlated with changes in 'on task' mind-wandering as well as resting state alpha rhythm. Crucially, we observed a causal dependence between alpha rhythm synchronization during NFB and its subsequent change at resting state, not exhibited by the SHAM group. Our findings provide neurobehavioral evidence for the brain's exquisite functional plasticity, and for a temporally direct impact of NFB on a key cognitive control network, suggesting a promising basis for its use to treat cognitive disorders under physiological conditions.
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