Real-time neurofeedback to alter interpretations of a naturalistic narrative.
We explored the potential of using real-time fMRI (rt-fMRI) neurofeedback training to bias interpretations of naturalistic narrative stimuli. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two possible conditions, each corresponding to a different interpretation of an ambiguous spoken story. While participants listened to the story in the scanner, neurofeedback was used to reward neural activity corresponding to the assigned interpretation. After scanning, final interpretations were assessed. While neurofeedback did not change story interpretations on average, participants with higher levels of decoding accuracy during the neurofeedback procedure were more likely to adopt the assigned interpretation. Thus, we believe that individualized neurofeedback shaped interpretations successfully when the signal was accurate, although more work is needed to improve this method and validate the result. While naturalistic stimuli introduce a unique set of challenges in providing effective and individualized neurofeedback, we believe that this technique holds promise for individualized cognitive therapy.