Research Focus

Our interdisciplinary research group focuses on developing new brain imaging methods and applying them to clinical conditions. Specifically, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a non-invasive therapeutic tool. This can be achieved by using real-time fMRI and neurofeedback of brain signals to teach participants and patients to self-regulate their brain activity. The fMRI neurofeedback approach allows to manipulate regionally specific brain activity, thus enabling us to establish a causal link between brain activity and behavior. We showed, for example, that neurofeedback-based 'brain training' of visual cortex improves visual sensitivity. We also showed that voluntary control over the motor cortex speeds up motor reaction times, that control over the parahippocampal complex affects memory performance, and that control over emotion networks improves valence ratings. Even more important than cognitive enhancement through brain training is the application of this novel approach to the benefit of patients. We therefore work with clinicians to use the neurofeedback technique in order to 'normalize' abnormal patterns of brain activity that are associated with neurological and psychiatric conditions. Neurofeedback is non-invasive and safe, can be personalized to the individual needs of each patient, can be combined with conventional therapeutic approaches, combines biological as well as psychological factors, and focuses on a fundamental human capacity: our ability to learn. With our work we aim at translating this cutting edge technology to the clinics to the benefit of patients.

Keywords: Neurofeedback, functional brain imaging, clinical neuroscience, translational neuroimaging, psychiatric disorders, neurorehabilitation, brain-computer-interfaces, perception, sensory systems


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