Summary: Researchers report a neurofeedback system allows those with Parkinson’s to voluntarily control brain waves associated with symptoms of the disorder.
A neurofeedback system enables Parkinson’s disease patients to voluntarily control brainwaves associated with symptoms of the disorder, according to new research published in eNeuro. It remains to be determined whether such a system can provide symptom relief.
Parkinson’s disease is associated with abnormal beta wave activity in the subthalamic nucleus (STN), but a direct connection between this activity and movement difficulties has not been established. In their study of eight patients undergoing a routine replacement of a pulse generator used for deep brain stimulation, Takufumi Yanagisawa and colleagues developed a method that could help scientists better understand the relationship between brain activity and disease symptoms.
By translating participants’ real-time brain activity into a visual representation during a 10-minute training session, the researchers demonstrate the patients’ ability to increase or decrease the size of a black circle with their thoughts alone. This manipulation had a corresponding effect on STN beta waves measured after the training session. Although the researchers did not observe an improvement in patients’ symptoms, their study represents a new approach toward managing disease-related brain activity that could inform the development of new treatments.
Funding: Study funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Source: David Barnstone – SfN
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Fukuma et al., eNeuro (2018).
Original Research: Abstract for “Real-time neurofeedback to modulate β-band power in the subthalamic nucleus in Parkinson’s disease patients” by Ryohei Fukuma, Takufumi Yanagisawa, Masataka Tanaka, Fumiaki Yoshida, Koichi Hosomi, Satoru Oshino, Naoki Tani and Haruhiko Kishima in eNeuro. Published December 17 2018.
Real-time neurofeedback to modulate β-band power in the subthalamic nucleus in Parkinson’s disease patients
The β-band oscillation in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a therapeutic target for Parkinson’s disease. Previous studies demonstrated that L-dopa decreases the β-band (13–30 Hz) oscillations with improvement of motor symptoms. However, it has not been elucidated whether patients with Parkinson’s disease are able to control the β-band oscillation voluntarily. Here, we hypothesized that neurofeedback training to control the β-band power in the STN induces plastic changes in the STN of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. We recorded the signals from STN-deep brain stimulation electrodes during operations to replace implantable pulse generators in eight human patients (three male) with bilateral electrodes. Four patients were induced to decrease the β-band power during the feedback training (down-training condition), whereas the other patients were induced to increase (up-training condition). All patients were blinded to their assigned condition. Adjacent contacts that showed the highest β-band power were selected for the feedback. During the 10-minute training, patients were shown a circle whose diameter was controlled by the β-band power of the selected contacts. Powers in the β-band during 5-minute resting sessions recorded before and after the feedback were compared. In the down-training condition, the β-band power of the selected contacts decreased significantly after feedback in all four patients (p < .05). In contrast, the β-band power significantly increased after feedback in two of four patients in the up-training condition. Overall, the patients could voluntarily control the β-band power in STN in the instructed direction (p < .05) through neurofeedback.
Many studies have reported a relationship between the β-band power in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. Here, we have developed a novel neurofeedback technique using intracranial electrodes implanted in deep brain structures to modulate STN activity. We provided direct feedback of the β-band power as the size of a black disc to induce a sustainable change in β-band power. As a result, the neurofeedback training induced significant changes in the β-band power. This is the first report to demonstrate that human patients with Parkinson’s disease were able to voluntarily control their β-band power in STN to induce changes in the power.