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MCL 3823.0: Drug-Enhanced Neurofeedback Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Elizabeth Quattrocki Knight, Ph.D.

Background and Description

Biofeedback, a technique developed in the 1960s, teaches individuals how to regulate autonomic bodily functions normally considered to be outside of the realm of conscious control. Biofeedback can train people to consciously regulate autonomic functions such as heart rate, skin conductance, and bowel and bladder function and has even allowed individuals to modulate higher-level unconscious biological processes such as pain, athletic performance, and anxiety. Biofeedback can be used to affect neurological function, in a technique called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback has typically been practiced through the use of electroencephalogram (EEG) signal information to condition the desired response, but more recently, technological improvements have allowed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to replace EEG as the basis of the feedback signal. Real-time analysis of fMRI signals affords high spatial and temporal resolution that can improve the efficacy of neurofeedback. The present invention involves administration of therapeutic agents that enhance neurotransmission to improve the efficacy of fMRI mediated neurofeedback learning.

Potential Commercial Uses

The invention can be used to treat a variety of psychiatric or neurological disorders. By choosing for the fMRI scan an area of the brain known to be involved in a particular disorder, the invention can be used to treat traumatic stress disorders, panic disorders, phobias, generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as cognitive disorders. The combination of fMRI neurofeedback with a drug stimulus is expected to provide tangible benefits over existing neurofeedback methods.

Publication and Patent Status

McLean Hospital has filed a PCT patent application claiming this invention.

Licenses Available

McLean Hospital is offering a worldwide exclusive license to this technology.

For more information, please contact:

Anne Ritter, Licensing Manager
Partners Research Ventures and Licensing
(617) 954-9529