Impact Factor


Front. Neurosci., 26 December 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2012.00189

Volitional control of neuromagnetic coherence

Matthew D. Sacchet1,2,3*, Jürgen Mellinger3, Ranganatha Sitaram3,4,5, Christoph Braun6,7,8, Niels Birbaumer3,9 and Eberhard Fetz10
  • 1Neurosciences Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
  • 3Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
  • 4Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
  • 5Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, India
  • 6Magnetoencephalography-Center, University of Tübingen Medical School, Tübingen, Germany
  • 7Centro Interdipartimentale Mente – Cervello Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
  • 8Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
  • 9San Camillo Hospital, Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care, Venice, Italy
  • 10Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Coherence of neural activity between circumscribed brain regions has been implicated as an indicator of intracerebral communication in various cognitive processes. While neural activity can be volitionally controlled with neurofeedback, the volitional control of coherence has not yet been explored. Learned volitional control of coherence could elucidate mechanisms of associations between cortical areas and its cognitive correlates and may have clinical implications. Neural coherence may also provide a signal for brain-computer interfaces (BCI). In the present study we used the Weighted Overlapping Segment Averaging method to assess coherence between bilateral magnetoencephalograph sensors during voluntary digit movement as a basis for BCI control. Participants controlled an onscreen cursor, with a success rate of 124 of 180 (68.9%, sign-test p < 0.001) and 84 out of 100 (84%, sign-test p < 0.001). The present findings suggest that neural coherence may be volitionally controlled and may have specific behavioral correlates.

Keywords: neurofeedback, magnetoencephalography, phase synchronization, functional neuorimaging, methods

Citation: Sacchet MD, Mellinger J, Sitaram R, Braun C, Birbaumer N and Fetz E (2012) Volitional control of neuromagnetic coherence. Front. Neurosci. 6:189. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00189

Received: 01 October 2012; Accepted: 07 December 2012;
Published online: 26 December 2012.

Edited by:

Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi, Northwestern University/Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, USA

Reviewed by:

Dennis J. McFarland, Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, USA
Kenji Kansaku, Research Institute of National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, Japan

Copyright: © 2012 Sacchet, Mellinger, Sitaram, Braun, Birbaumer and Fetz. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Matthew D. Sacchet, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Jordan Hall, Building 01-420, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. e-mail: msacchet@stanford.edu