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Amygdala-related electrical fingerprint is modulated with neurofeedback training and correlates with deep-brain activation: proof-of-concept in borderline personality disorder.

Psychological Medicine 2023 December 23
BACKGROUND: The modulation of brain circuits of emotion is a promising pathway to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). Precise and scalable approaches have yet to be established. Two studies investigating the amygdala-related electrical fingerprint (Amyg-EFP) in BPD are presented: one study addressing the deep-brain correlates of Amyg-EFP, and a second study investigating neurofeedback (NF) as a means to improve brain self-regulation.

METHODS: Study 1 combined electroencephalography (EEG) and simultaneous functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the replicability of Amyg-EFP-related brain activation found in the reference dataset ( N = 24 healthy subjects, 8 female; re-analysis of published data) in the replication dataset ( N = 16 female individuals with BPD). In the replication dataset, we additionally explored how the Amyg-EFP would map to neural circuits defined by the research domain criteria. Study 2 investigated a 10-session Amyg-EFP NF training in parallel to a 12-weeks residential dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program. Fifteen patients with BPD completed the training, N = 15 matched patients served as DBT-only controls.

RESULTS: Study 1 replicated previous findings and showed significant amygdala blood oxygenation level dependent activation in a whole-brain regression analysis with the Amyg-EFP. Neurocircuitry activation (negative affect, salience, and cognitive control) was correlated with the Amyg-EFP signal. Study 2 showed Amyg-EFP modulation with NF training, but patients received reversed feedback for technical reasons, which limited interpretation of results.

CONCLUSIONS: Recorded via scalp EEG, the Amyg-EFP picks up brain activation of high relevance for emotion. Administering Amyg-EFP NF in addition to standardized BPD treatment was shown to be feasible. Clinical utility remains to be investigated.

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