There is increasing interest in exploring the use of functional MRI neurofeedback (fMRI-NF) as a therapeutic technique for a range of neurological conditions such as stroke and Parkinson's disease (PD). One main therapeutic potential of fMRI-NF is to enhance volitional control of damaged or dysfunctional neural nodes and networks via a closed-loop feedback model using mental imagery as the catalyst of self-regulation. The choice of target node/network and direction of regulation (increase or decrease activity) are central design considerations in fMRI-NF studies. Whilst it remains unclear whether the primary motor cortex (M1) can be activated during motor imagery, the supplementary motor area (SMA) has been robustly activated during motor imagery. Such differences in the regulation potential between primary and supplementary motor cortex are important because these areas can be differentially affected by a stroke or PD, and the choice of fMRI-NF target and grade of self-regulation of activity likely have substantial influence on the clinical effects and cost effectiveness of NF-based interventions. In this study we therefore investigated firstly whether healthy subjects would be able to achieve self-regulation of the hand-representation areas of M1 and the SMA using fMRI-NF training. There was a significant decrease in M1 neural activity during fMRI-NF, whereas SMA neural activity was increased, albeit not with the predicated graded effect. This study has important implications for fMRI-NF protocols that employ motor imagery to modulate activity in specific target regions of the brain and to determine how they may be tailored for neurorehabilitation.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.