Modulating medial prefrontal cortex activity using real-time fMRI neurofeedback: Effects on reality monitoring performance and associated functional connectivity.


Neuroimaging studies have found 'reality monitoring', our ability to distinguish internally generated experiences from those derived from the external world, to be associated with activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of the brain. Here we probe the functional underpinning of this ability using real-time fMRI neurofeedback to investigate the involvement of mPFC in recollection of the source of self-generated information. Thirty-nine healthy individuals underwent neurofeedback training in a between groups study receiving either Active feedback derived from the paracingulate region of the mPFC (21 subjects) or Sham feedback based on a similar level of randomised signal (18 subjects). Compared to those in the Sham group, participants receiving Active signal showed increased mPFC activity over the course of three real-time neurofeedback training runs undertaken in a single scanning session. Analysis of resting state functional connectivity associated with changes in reality monitoring accuracy following Active neurofeedback revealed increased connectivity between dorsolateral frontal regions of the fronto-parietal network (FPN) and the mPFC region of the default mode network (DMN), together with reduced connectivity within ventral regions of the FPN itself. However, only a trend effect was observed in the interaction of the recollection of the source of Imagined information compared with recognition memory between participants receiving Active and Sham neurofeedback, pre- and post- scanning. As such, these findings demonstrate that neurofeedback can be used to modulate mPFC activity and increase cooperation between the FPN and DMN, but the effects on reality monitoring performance are less clear.