Real-time brain feedback can help people overcome anxiety

by Bill Hathaway
Real-time brain feedback can help people overcome anxiety
This image from the study shows changes in degree of connectivity in the feedback group. Increases are shown in red/yellow and decreases in blue/purple. Decreases in connectivity are seen in limbic areas, and increases are seen in prefrontal regions.

(Medical Xpress)—People provided with a real-time readout of activity in specific regions of their brains can learn to control that activity and lessen their anxiety, according to new findings published online in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Using functional (fMRI), Yale researchers displayed the activity of the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region just above the eyes, to subjects while they lay in a brain scanner.

Through a process of trial and error, these subjects were gradually able to learn to control their brain activity. This led both to changes in brain connectivity and to increased control over anxiety. These changes were still present several days after the training.

Extreme anxiety associated with worries about dirt and germs is characteristic of many patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Hyperactivity in the is seen in many of these individuals.

fMRI-driven neurofeedback has been used before in a few contexts, but it has never been applied to the treatment of anxiety. The findings raise the possibility that real-time fMRI feedback may provide a novel and effective form of treatment for OCD.

Read the study at Translational Psychiatry.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

An alternative to medical marijuana for pain?

16 hours ago

Medical marijuana is proliferating across the country due to the ability of cannabis ingestion to treat important clinical problems such as chronic pain. However, negative side effects and the development of tolerance limit ...

Curtailing worry reduces key schizophrenia symptom

16 hours ago

Delusions of persecution in psychiatric patients can be reduced with just six sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a new clinical trial has found. Using CBT in this way could potentially help ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.