Background: Neurofeedback delivered via real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) is a promising therapeutic technique being explored to facilitate self-regulation of craving in nicotine-dependent cigarette smokers. The current study examined the role of nicotine-dependence severity and the efficacy of multiple visits of neurofeedback from a single region of interest (ROI) in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) on craving reduction.
Methods: Nine nicotine-dependent cigarette smokers participated in three rtfMRI visits that examined cue-induced craving and brain activation. Severity of nicotine dependence was assessed with the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence. When viewing smoking-related images with instructions to "crave," patient-tailored ROIs were generated in the vicinity of the ACC. Activity levels from the ROI were fed back while participants viewed smoking cues with the instruction to reduce craving.
Results: Neurofeedback from a single ROI in the ACC led to consistent decreases in self-reported craving and activation in the ACC across the three visits. Dependence severity predicted response to neurofeedback at Visit 3.
Conclusions: This study builds upon previous rtfMRI studies on the regulation of nicotine craving in demonstrating that feedback from the ACC can reduce activation to smoking cues across three separate visits. Individuals with lower nicotine-dependence severity were more successful in reducing ACC activation over time. These data highlight the need to consider dependence severity in developing more individualized neurofeedback methods.