Investigations into the functional architecture of the human brain; lessons from neurofeedback


February 20, 2018 - 12:00pm
Northwest Building, Room B103
About the Speaker
Michal Ramot
Speaker Title: 
Postdoctoral Fellow
Speaker Affiliation: 
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Behavior is dependent on the configuration and activity of many different networks. Examining spontaneous activity allows us to characterize these networks, and the relationships between them. Moreover, the patterns of spontaneous activity, and the correlations between different brain regions, are predictive of individual differences, both within the normal range of task performance, and in the severity of clinical symptoms. I will provide a framework for probing the relationship between network configurations and behavior in a more causal manner, through the use of covert neurofeedback. This technique allows us to perturb brain networks by reinforcing desired network states directly, through a reward orthogonal to the networks being trained. This allows us to directly alter a feature of interest in the brain, such as the correlation between different brain regions, and then assess changes in behavior, rather than training behavior, and then searching for changes in networks. I will describe three studies: the first showing that covert neurofeedback can be entirely implicit, and works even without learning intent on the part of participants; the second that it is possible to change targeted aberrant connections, even in a patient population; and the third, moving on to more circumscribed networks and behavior, to best test how changes in networks bring about changes in behavior.