BRAINTRAIN: Taking imaging into the therapeutic domain: Self-regulation of brain systems for mental disorders

2013 – 2017 EU FP7 health program (Consortium)

Goal: Build a multidisciplinary platform to address mental health problems through brain self-regulation training of neurofeedback (e.g. autism, binge-eating, anxiety spectrum disorders, and depression).

BRAINTRAIN is based on the idea that real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used for the on-line-monitoring of brain function as well as for self-modulation of neural processes via interactive training. The training is based on the neurofeedback (NF) procedure, whereby patients learn to control brain activity using real-time signals from their own brain. In patients such self-regulation techniques can be used to mark and modulate the brain networks of a given mental disorder, thus restoring function, alleviating symptoms and promoting resilience.

 

The strengths of this technique lie in its high spatial resolution and fidelity, ability to probe deep subcortical structures and whole-brain coverage, enabling the extraction of information from distributed activation patterns, and the mapping of functionally connected networks. BRAINTRAIN aims to combine real-time fMRI with appropriate complementary techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG), to obtain optimal spatial and temporal resolution and to apply this to the brain’s core motivational and emotion-regulation networks, which are central to pathophysiological models of mental disorders. The proposed optimized real-time imaging approach can thus effectively transfer neuroimaging into the diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative domains in psychiatry.

Our project responds to a huge clinical need for mechanism-driven therapies in psychiatry. Advances in neuroimaging and other neuroscience techniques have produced a wealth of information about the neural networks that can contribute to these disorders and their treatment. This information can now be harnessed to pinpoint both dysfunction and potential compensatory mechanisms in individual patients.

Delineating gray and white matter involvement in brain lesions: 3D alignment of fMRI and DTI.

Key Publications

Spatio-temporal indications of sub-cortical involvement in leftward bias of spatial attention. 

The dark side of the alpha rhythm: fMRI evidence for induced alpha modulation during complete darkness

Distinct iEEG activity patterns in temporal-limbic and prefrontal sites induced by emotional intentionality.

Talma Hendler (MD PhD) is a professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and the founding director of the Sagol Brain Institute Tel-Aviv. Professor Hendler holds an MD from Tel Aviv University and a PhD from SUNY at Stony Brook, NY. and is a licensed psychiatrist in Israel. 

Prof. Hendler leads the #Neuropsychiatry & Neuromodulation research team and an associated investigator of all the other 6 research teams at the Sagol Brain Institute.

PROF. TALMA HENDLER (MD, PhD)