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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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67. The efficacy of real-time fMRI neurofeedback training for psychiatric disorders: A meta-analysis

Gold-standard treatments for a variety of psychiatric illnesses are far from panaceas, motivating efforts to devise novel therapeutics that mechanistically target symptoms. One such approach is real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback training (rtfMRI-NFT), in which participants learn to self-regulate neural activity based on neurofeedback they receive in real time. In recent years, rtfMRI-NFT has been used as a method of modulating neural activity in regions associated with symptoms and cognitive deficits in psychiatric disorders. However, there has not been a formal quantitative evaluation regarding its efficacy. Thus, here, we meta-analyze rtfMRI-NFT for psychiatric disorders. Our literature search in PubMed returned 45 relevant articles, the majority of which assessed rtfMRI-NFT in depressive disorders. We asked two questions: 1) does rtfMRI-NFT impact neural activity and/or connectivity in targeted regions-of-interest, and associated symptoms or cognitive processes; 3) are these effects moderated by study and patient characteristics. Preliminary results show that rtfMRI-NFT has a measurable effect on neural activity and associated symptoms/cognitive impairments within psychiatric samples, which are moderated by study and patient characteristics. These findings suggest ways of increasing the magnitude of effects in future studies in order to optimize neural changes that facilitate better outcomes in psychiatric illness.

Emily Dudek
University of Rochester

David Dodell-Feder
University of Rochester


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