Amygdala electrical-finger-print (AmygEFP) NeuroFeedback guided by individually-tailored Trauma script for post-traumatic stress disorder: Proof-of-concept

Tom Fruchtman-Steinbok, Jackob N. Keynan, Avihay Cohen, Iman Jaljuli, Shiri Mermelstein, Gadi Drori, Efrat Routledge, Michael Krasnoshtein, Rebecca Playle, David E.J. Linden, Talma Hendler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Amygdala activity dysregulation plays a central role in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hence learning to self-regulate one's amygdala activity may facilitate recovery. PTSD is further characterized by abnormal contextual processing related to the traumatic memory. Therefore, provoking the personal traumatic narrative while training amygdala down-regulation could enhance clinical efficacy. We report the results of a randomized controlled trial (NCT02544971) of a novel self-neuromodulation procedure (i.e. NeuroFeedback) for PTSD, aimed at down-regulating limbic activity while receiving feedback from an auditory script of a personal traumatic narrative. To scale-up applicability, neural activity was probed by an fMRI-informed EEG model of amygdala activity, termed Amygdala Electrical Finger-Print (AmygEFP). Methods: Fifty-nine adults meeting DSM-5 criteria for PTSD were randomized between three groups: Trauma-script feedback interface (Trauma-NF) or Neutral feedback interface (Neutral-NF), and a control group of No-NF (to control for spontaneous recovery). Before and immediately after 15 NF training sessions patients were blindly assessed for PTSD symptoms and underwent one session of amygdala fMRI-NF for transferability testing. Follow-up clinical assessment was performed at 3- and 6-months following NF treatment. Results: Patients in both NF groups learned to volitionally down-regulate AmygEFP signal and demonstrated a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms and improved down-regulation of the amygdala during fMRI-NF, compared to the No-NF group. The Trauma-NF group presented the largest immediate clinical improvement. Conclusions: This proof-of-concept study indicates the feasibility of the AmygEFP-NF process-driven as a scalable intervention for PTSD and illustrates its clinical potential. Further investigation is warranted to elucidate the contribution of AmygEFP-NF beyond exposure and placebo effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102859
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Funding

FundersFunder number
PTSD
Sagol Family Foundation Fund
Seventh Framework Programme602186
Seventh Framework Programme

    Keywords

    • EEG
    • Limbic activity
    • Neuromodulation
    • Self-regulation
    • fMRI

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