Upregulation of the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex can Alter the Perception of Emotions: fMRI-Based Neurofeedback at 3 and 7 T
Recent advances in real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) techniques enable online feedback about momentary brain activity from a localized region of interest. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) as a central hub for cognitive and emotional networks and its modulation has been suggested to elicit mood changes. In the presented real-time fMRI neurofeedback experiment at a 3 and a 7 T scanner we enabled participants to regulate ACC activity within one training session. The session consisted of three training runs of 8.5 min where subjects received online feedback about their current ACC activity. Before and after each run we presented emotional prosody. Subjects rated these stimuli according to their emotional valence and arousal, which served as an implicit mood measure. We found increases in ACC activation at 3 T (n = 15) and at 7 T (n = 9) with a higher activation success for the 3 T group. FMRI signal control of the rostral ACC depended on signal quality and predicted a valence bias in the rating of emotional prosody. Real-time fMRI neurofeedback of the ACC is feasible at different magnetic field strengths and can modulate localized ACC activity and emotion perception. It promises non-invasive therapeutic approaches for different psychiatric disorders characterized by impaired self-regulation.