Neurofeedback and neuroplasticity of visual self-processing in depressed and healthy adolescents: A preliminary study

Karina Quevedo, Guanmin Liu, Jia Yuan Teoh, Satrajit Ghosh, Thomas Zeffiro, Natasha Ahrweiler, Na Zhang, Riley Wedan, Sewon Oh, Guerson Guercio, Christian Paret

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19 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a neuroplastic period for self-processing and emotion regulation transformations, that if derailed, are linked to persistent depression. Neural mechanisms of adolescent self-processing and emotion regulation ought to be targeted via new treatments, given moderate effectiveness of current interventions. Thus, we implemented a novel neurofeedback protocol in adolescents to test the engagement of circuits sub-serving self-processing and emotion regulation. Methods: Depressed (n = 34) and healthy (n = 19) adolescents underwent neurofeedback training using a novel task. They saw their happy face as a cue to recall positive memories and increased displayed amygdala and hippocampus activity. The control condition was counting-backwards while viewing another happy face. A self vs. other face recognition task was administered before and after neurofeedback training. Results: Adolescents showed higher frontotemporal activity during neurofeedback and higher amygdala and hippocampus and hippocampi activity in time series and region of interest analyses respectively. Before neurofeedback there was higher saliency network engagement for self-face recognition, but that network engagement was lower after neurofeedback. Depressed youth exhibited higher fusiform, inferior parietal lobule and cuneus activity during neurofeedback, but controls appeared to increase amygdala and hippocampus activity faster compared to depressed adolescents. Conclusions: Neurofeedback recruited frontotemporal cortices that support social cognition and emotion regulation. Amygdala and hippocampus engagement via neurofeedback appears to change limbic-frontotemporal networks during self-face recognition. A placebo group or condition and contrasting amygdala and hippocampus, hippocampi or right amygdala versus frontal loci of neurofeedback, e.g. dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, with longer duration of neurofeedback training will elucidate dosage and loci of neurofeedback in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100707
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding awarded to KQ from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; MH092601 ), Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and the U of M Clinical and Translational Science Institute supported data collection, analysis and manuscript preparation. NZ’s work on this paper was supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Prevention by National Institute on Drug Abuse through the Department of Psychology and the REACH Institute at Arizona State University ( T32 DA039772 ). Funding sources were not involved in the design of this study, collection, analysis and interpretation of data or manuscript preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s)


  • Adolescence
  • Amygdala
  • Depression
  • Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex
  • Hippocampus
  • Neurofeedback
  • Self-face recognition


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