Training the brain to treat itself is a promising therapy for traumatic stress. The training uses an auditory or visual signal that corresponds to the activity of a particular brain region, called neurofeedback, which can guide people to regulate their own brain activity. However, treating stress-related disorders requires accessing the brain’s emotional hub, the amygdala, which is located deep in the brain and difficult to reach with typical neurofeedback methods.
A study published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry tested a new imaging method that provided reliable neurofeedback on the level of amygdala activity using electroencephalography (EEG), and allowed people to alter their own emotional responses through self-regulation of its activity. During this neurofeedback task, 42 participants learned to modulate their own amygdala electrical activity. This also led to improved downregulation of blood-oxygen level dependent signals of the amygdala, an indicator of regional activation measured with fMRI.