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Real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback in motor neurorehabilitation.


Recent developments in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have catalyzed a new field of translational neuroscience. Using fMRI to monitor the aspects of task-related changes in neural activation or brain connectivity, investigators can offer feedback of simple or complex neural signals/patterns back to the participant on a quasireal-time basis [real-time-fMRI-based neurofeedback (rt-fMRI-NF)]. Here, we introduce some background methodology of the new developments in this field and give a perspective on how they may be used in neurorehabilitation in the future.The development of rt-fMRI-NF has been used to promote self-regulation of activity in several brain regions and networks. In addition, and unlike other noninvasive techniques, rt-fMRI-NF can access specific subcortical regions and in principle any region that can be monitored using fMRI including the cerebellum, brainstem and spinal cord. In Parkinson's disease and stroke, rt-fMRI-NF has been demonstrated to alter neural activity after the self-regulation training was completed and to modify specific behaviours.Future exploitation of rt-fMRI-NF could be used to induce neuroplasticity in brain networks that are involved in certain neurological conditions. However, currently, the use of rt-fMRI-NF in randomized, controlled clinical trials is in its infancy.