The morphology of midcingulate cortex predicts frontal-midline theta neurofeedback success

Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Aug 9:7:453. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00453. eCollection 2013.


Humans differ in their ability to learn how to control their own brain activity by neurofeedback. However, neural mechanisms underlying these inter-individual differences, which may determine training success and associated cognitive enhancement, are not well-understood. Here, it is asked whether neurofeedback success of frontal-midline (fm) theta, an oscillation related to higher cognitive functions, could be predicted by the morphology of brain structures known to be critically involved in fm-theta generation. Nineteen young, right-handed participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging of T1-weighted brain images, and took part in an individualized, eight-session neurofeedback training in order to learn how to enhance activity in their fm-theta frequency band. Initial training success, measured at the second training session, was correlated with the final outcome measure. We found that the inferior, superior, and middle frontal cortices were not associated with training success. However, volume of the midcingulate cortex as well as volume and concentration of the underlying white matter structures act as predictor variables for the general responsiveness to training. These findings suggest a neuroanatomical foundation for the ability to learn to control one's own brain activity.

Keywords: brain structure; cingulate bundle; fm-theta enhancement; midcingulate cortex; neurofeedback success.