Global Data-Driven Analysis of Brain Connectivity during Emotion Regulation by EEG Neurofeedback

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Brain Connect


BACKGROUND: Emotion regulation by neurofeedback involves interactions among multiple brain regions, including prefrontal cortex and subcortical regions in the limbic system. Previous studies focused on connections of specific brain regions like amygdala with other brain regions. New method: EEG neurofeedback is used to upregulate positive emotion through induced happiness by retrieving positive autobiographical memories and fMRI data acquired simultaneously. A global data-driven approach, group independent component analysis (ICA), is applied to fMRI data and functional network connectivity is estimated. This study discovers all connections among independent components involved in emotion regulation.

RESULTS: The proposed approach identified all functional networks engaged in positive autobiographical memories and evaluated effects of neurofeedback. The results revealed two pairs of networks with significantly different functional connectivity among emotion regulation blocks (relative to other blocks of experiment) and between experimental and control groups (FDR-corrected for multiple comparisons, q=0.05). Functional network connectivity distribution (FNCD) showed significant connectivity differences between neurofeedback blocks and other blocks, revealing more synchronized brain networks during neurofeedback. During emotion regulation, significant functional connectivity changes were found in and between prefrontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, and limbic networks. Comparison with existing methods: While the results are consistent with those of previous model based studies, some of the connections found in this study were not found previously. These connections are between a) occipital (fusiform, cuneus, middle occipital, and lingual gyrus) and other regions including limbic system/sub-lobar (thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, caudate, putamen, insula, and ventral striatum), prefrontal/frontal cortex (DLPFC, VLPFC, and OFC), inferior parietal, middle temporal gyrus and b) PCC and hippocampus.

CONCLUSIONS: Using fMRI during EEG neurofeedback, this study provided a global insight to brain connectivity for emotion regulation. The brain networks interactions may be used to develop connectivity-based neurofeedback methods and alternative therapeutic approaches, which may be more effective than the traditional activity-based neurofeedback methods.

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ePub ahead of print