Closed-loop enhancement and neural decoding of cognitive control in humans

Nat Biomed Eng. 2021 Nov 1;10.1038/s41551-021-00804-y. doi: 10.1038/s41551-021-00804-y. Online ahead of print.


Deficits in cognitive control-that is, in the ability to withhold a default pre-potent response in favour of a more adaptive choice-are common in depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental disorders. Here we report proof-of-concept evidence that, in participants undergoing intracranial epilepsy monitoring, closed-loop direct stimulation of the internal capsule or striatum, especially the dorsal sites, enhances the participants' cognitive control during a conflict task. We also show that closed-loop stimulation upon the detection of lapses in cognitive control produced larger behavioural changes than open-loop stimulation, and that task performance for single trials can be directly decoded from the activity of a small number of electrodes via neural features that are compatible with existing closed-loop brain implants. Closed-loop enhancement of cognitive control might remediate underlying cognitive deficits and aid the treatment of severe mental disorders.