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Upregulation of Supplementary Motor Area Activation with fMRI Neurofeedback during Motor Imagery

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Salim Al-Wasity
  • Stefan Vogt
  • Aleksandra Vuckovic
  • Frank Pollick
Article numberENEURO.0377-18.2020
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2021
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date20/12/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neurofeedback (NF) is a promising tool to study the relationship between behavior and brain activity. It enables people to self-regulate their brain signal. Here, we applied fMRI NF to train healthy participants to increase activity in their supplementary motor area (SMA) during a motor imagery (MI) task of complex body movements while they received a continuous visual feedback signal. This signal represented the activity of participants’ localized SMA regions in the NF group and a prerecorded signal in the control group (sham feedback). In the NF group only, results showed a gradual increase in SMA-related activity across runs. This upregulation was largely restricted to the SMA, while other regions of the motor network showed no, or only marginal NF effects. In addition, we found behavioral changes, i.e., shorter reaction times in a Go/No-go task after the NF training only. These results suggest that NF can assist participants to develop greater control over a specifically targeted motor region involved in motor skill learning. The results contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of SMA NF based on MI with a direct implication for rehabilitation of motor dysfunctions.