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      Closed-loop training of attention with real-time brain imaging

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          Abstract

          Lapses of attention can have negative consequences, including accidents and lost productivity. Here we used closed-loop neurofeedback to improve sustained attention abilities and reduce the frequency of lapses. During a sustained attention task, the focus of attention was monitored in real time with multivariate pattern analysis of whole-brain neuroimaging data. When indicators of an attentional lapse were detected in the brain, we gave human participants feedback by making the task more difficult. Behavioral performance improved after one training session, relative to control participants who received feedback from other participants’ brains. This improvement was largest when feedback carried information from a frontoparietal attention network. A neural consequence of training was that the basal ganglia and ventral temporal cortex came to represent attentional states more distinctively. These findings suggest that attentional failures do not reflect an upper limit on cognitive potential and that attention can be trained with appropriate feedback about neural signals.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Distributed and overlapping representations of faces and objects in ventral temporal cortex.

          The functional architecture of the object vision pathway in the human brain was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure patterns of response in ventral temporal cortex while subjects viewed faces, cats, five categories of man-made objects, and nonsense pictures. A distinct pattern of response was found for each stimulus category. The distinctiveness of the response to a given category was not due simply to the regions that responded maximally to that category, because the category being viewed also could be identified on the basis of the pattern of response when those regions were excluded from the analysis. Patterns of response that discriminated among all categories were found even within cortical regions that responded maximally to only one category. These results indicate that the representations of faces and objects in ventral temporal cortex are widely distributed and overlapping.
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            'Oops!': performance correlates of everyday attentional failures in traumatic brain injured and normal subjects.

            Insufficient attention to tasks can result in slips of action as automatic, unintended action sequences are triggered inappropriately. Such slips arise in part from deficits in sustained attention, which are particularly likely to happen following frontal lobe and white matter damage in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We present a reliable laboratory paradigm that elicits such slips of action and demonstrates high correlations between the severity of brain damage and relative-reported everyday attention failures in a group of 34 TBI patients. We also demonstrate significant correlations between self- and informant-reported everyday attentional failures and performance on this paradigm in a group of 75 normal controls. The paradigm (the Sustained Attention to Response Task-SART) involves the withholding of key presses to rare (one in nine) targets. Performance on the SART correlates significantly with performance on tests of sustained attention, but not other types of attention, supporting the view that this is indeed a measure of sustained attention. We also show that errors (false presses) on the SART can be predicted by a significant shortening of reaction times in the immediately preceding responses, supporting the view that these errors are a result of 'drift' of controlled processing into automatic responding consequent on impaired sustained attention to task. We also report a highly significant correlation of -0.58 between SART performance and Glasgow Coma Scale Scores in the TBI group.
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              Control over brain activation and pain learned by using real-time functional MRI.

              If an individual can learn to directly control activation of localized regions within the brain, this approach might provide control over the neurophysiological mechanisms that mediate behavior and cognition and could potentially provide a different route for treating disease. Control over the endogenous pain modulatory system is a particularly important target because it could enable a unique mechanism for clinical control over pain. Here, we found that by using real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI) to guide training, subjects were able to learn to control activation in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), a region putatively involved in pain perception and regulation. When subjects deliberately induced increases or decreases in rACC fMRI activation, there was a corresponding change in the perception of pain caused by an applied noxious thermal stimulus. Control experiments demonstrated that this effect was not observed after similar training conducted without rtfMRI information, or using rtfMRI information derived from a different brain region, or sham rtfMRI information derived previously from a different subject. Chronic pain patients were also trained to control activation in rACC and reported decreases in the ongoing level of chronic pain after training. These findings show that individuals can gain voluntary control over activation in a specific brain region given appropriate training, that voluntary control over activation in rACC leads to control over pain perception, and that these effects were powerful enough to impact severe, chronic clinical pain.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                9809671
                21092
                Nat Neurosci
                Nat. Neurosci.
                Nature neuroscience
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                13 January 2015
                09 February 2015
                March 2015
                01 September 2015
                : 18
                : 3
                : 470-475
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, Princeton University
                Article
                NIHMS654640
                10.1038/nn.3940
                4503600
                25664913
                Categories
                Article

                Neurosciences

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