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Resting state functional connectivity predicts neurofeedback response

DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00338

Keywords: Neurofeedback, realtime fMRI, rtfMRI, real-time fMRI, resting state connectivity, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, orbitofrontal cortex

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Tailoring treatments to the specific needs and biology of individual patients – personalized medicine – requires delineation of reliable predictors of response. Unfortunately, these have been slow to emerge, especially in neuropsychiatric disorders. We have recently described a real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) neurofeedback protocol that can reduce contamination-related anxiety, a prominent symptom of many cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Individual response to this intervention is variable. Here we used patterns of brain functional connectivity, as measured by baseline resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI), to predict improvements in contamination anxiety after neurofeedback training. Activity of a region of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and anterior prefrontal cortex, Brodmann area (BA) 10, associated with contamination anxiety in each subject was measured in real time and presented as a neurofeedback signal, permitting subjects to learn to modulate this target brain region. We have previously reported both enhanced OFC/BA 10 control and improved anxiety in a group of subclinically anxious subjects after neurofeedback. Five individuals with contamination-related OCD who underwent the same protocol also showed improved clinical symptomatology. In both groups, these behavioral improvements were strongly correlated with baseline whole-brain connectivity in the OFC/BA 10, computed from rs-fMRI collected several days prior to neurofeedback training. These pilot data suggest that rs-fMRI can be used to identify individuals likely to benefit from rt-fMRI neurofeedback training to control contamination anxiety.


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