Limbic Activity Modulation Guided by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Inspired Electroencephalography Improves Implicit Emotion Regulation

Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 15;80(6):490-496. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.12.024. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


The amygdala has a pivotal role in processing traumatic stress; hence, gaining control over its activity could facilitate adaptive mechanism and recovery. To date, amygdala volitional regulation could be obtained only via real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a highly inaccessible procedure. The current article presents high-impact neurobehavioral implications of a novel imaging approach that enables bedside monitoring of amygdala activity using fMRI-inspired electroencephalography (EEG), hereafter termed amygdala-electrical fingerprint (amyg-EFP). Simultaneous EEG/fMRI indicated that the amyg-EFP reliably predicts amygdala-blood oxygen level-dependent activity. Implementing the amyg-EFP in neurofeedback demonstrated that learned downregulation of the amyg-EFP facilitated volitional downregulation of amygdala-blood oxygen level-dependent activity via real-time fMRI and manifested as reduced amygdala reactivity to visual stimuli. Behavioral evidence further emphasized the therapeutic potential of this approach by showing improved implicit emotion regulation following amyg-EFP neurofeedback. Additional EFP models denoting different brain regions could provide a library of localized activity for low-cost and highly accessible brain-based diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Amygdala; Brain-computer interface; EEG neurofeedback; Machine learning; Real-time fMRI; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces / psychology*
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurofeedback / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Young Adult