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Brain Sci. 2017, 7(8), 95; doi:10.3390/brainsci7080095

Assessing the Effectiveness of Neurofeedback Training in the Context of Clinical and Social Neuroscience

1
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
2
Departments of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
3
Marketing Department, Clemson University College of Business, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
4
Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
5
Neurosciences Group, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Stephanie Cacioppo
Received: 24 January 2017 / Revised: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 7 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Best Practices in Social Neuroscience)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [334 KB, uploaded 7 August 2017]

Abstract

Social neuroscience benefits from the experimental manipulation of neuronal activity. One possible manipulation, neurofeedback, is an operant conditioning-based technique in which individuals sense, interact with, and manage their own physiological and mental states. Neurofeedback has been applied to a wide variety of psychiatric illnesses, as well as to treat sub-clinical symptoms, and even to enhance performance in healthy populations. Despite growing interest, there persists a level of distrust and/or bias in the medical and research communities in the USA toward neurofeedback and other functional interventions. As a result, neurofeedback has been largely ignored, or disregarded within social neuroscience. We propose a systematic, empirically-based approach for assessing the effectiveness, and utility of neurofeedback. To that end, we use the term perturbative physiologic plasticity to suggest that biological systems function as an integrated whole that can be perturbed and guided, either directly or indirectly, into different physiological states. When the intention is to normalize the system, e.g., via neurofeedback, we describe it as self-directed neuroplasticity, whose outcome is persistent functional, structural, and behavioral changes. We argue that changes in physiological, neuropsychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and societal functioning following neurofeedback can serve as objective indices and as the metrics necessary for assessing levels of efficacy. In this chapter, we examine the effects of neurofeedback on functional connectivity in a few clinical disorders as case studies for this approach. We believe this broader perspective will open new avenues of investigation, especially within social neuroscience, to further elucidate the mechanisms and effectiveness of these types of interventions, and their relevance to basic research. View Full-Text
Keywords: neurotherapies; perturbative physiological plasticity; self-directed plasticity; biomarkers; functional connectivity neurotherapies; perturbative physiological plasticity; self-directed plasticity; biomarkers; functional connectivity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Orndorff-Plunkett, F.; Singh, F.; Aragón, O.R.; Pineda, J.A. Assessing the Effectiveness of Neurofeedback Training in the Context of Clinical and Social Neuroscience. Brain Sci. 2017, 7, 95.

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