Using real-time fMRI neurofeedback to enable people to differentially self-regulate their own brain activity
Current physical therapy following stroke aims to indirectly induce neuroplasticity in motor regions of the brain using physical manipulation of the limbs. This practical clinical approach has the potential to induce maladaptive neural changes that may inhibit long-term recovery. We aim to enhance these physical therapy techniques by taking into account neural activity during therapy using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Our goal is to develop a non-invasive technique for healthy subjects to endogenously generate patterns of brain activity associated with increased motor performance, as a proof-of-concept for neurally-guided stroke therapy. Our technique uses real-time fMRI to provide subjects with moment-by-moment feedback of how closely their patterns of brain activity match desired levels. This study will provide a basis to guide stroke patients to differentially self-regulate their brain activity using physical movement, in order to assist in recovery.