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Jinendra Ekanayake, Ged Ridgway, Frank Scharnowski, Joel Winston, Koush Yury, Nikolaus Weiskopf, Geraint Rees; Altered perceptual bistability in binocular rivalry through neurofeedback training of high order visual areas. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):938. doi: 10.1167/13.9.938.
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Neurofeedback using real-time fMRI (rtfMRI) enables voluntary control of activity within a target brain region. By subsequently testing how such voluntary control of brain activity affects perception or behaviour, it is possible to establish a causal link between brain activity and behaviour We hypothesized that neurofeedback training of higher order visual areas would lead to a change in conscious perception that can be measured using a binocular rivalry (BR) paradigm. To test this hypothesis, brain signals and perception were measured during binocular rivalry between face and house stimuli in ten participants. Participants were then separated into two groups and learned up-regulation of either the fusiform face area (FFA) or the parahippocampal place area (PPA) using rtfMRI neurofeedback.Following training, participants reported BR again, this time either with or without simultaneous up-regulation of one of the target brain regions. During post-training BR without up-regulation, a significant decrease in duration and switch rate of the ‘untrained’ percept (i.e. a house when they learned to increase activity in the FFA, or a face when they learned to increase activity in the PPA) was observed, with no significant change in the perception of the stimulus linked to the trained region. During BR with up-regulation, there was a further decrease in the duration and switch rate of the ‘unmodulated’ percept which was significant (i.e. a house while concurrently up-regulating activity in FFA following training on FFA up-regulation, or a face while concurrently up-regulating activity in PPA following training on PPA up-regulation). We conclude that voluntary modulation of high order visual areas using rtfMRI neurofeedback causes lasting changes of BR dynamics and behaviour.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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