Distinguishing Voluntarily Upregulation of Localized Central Alpha from Widespread Posterior Alpha

Neurofeedback (NF) training based on alpha upregulation has been widely used on patient and healthy populations. However, active voluntary modulation of central or widespread posterior alpha in response to central alpha feedback is still ambiguous. The objective of this study is to confirm whether patients learn to truly increase alpha power and to determine if patients modulate central or widespread alpha power when alpha feedback is provided from central brain region. This EEG-based NF study was conducted on seven paraplegic patients with same injury type, pain location, and sensitization to ensure homogeneity. In addition to routine NF training sessions, various experiments were performed to compare alpha NF modulation received from C4 with alpha shift during cognitive tasks, occipital or parieto-occipital cortex, and Laplacian montage which is expected to separate localized alpha from widespread alpha, to attain objectives. Moreover, imaginary coherence analysis in alpha band was also performed to check whether C4 training site is coupled with other brain regions and to confirm whether activity at training site leads/lags the activity of other brain regions. The results indicate widespread alpha modulation in patients during regular NF sessions (pā€‰<ā€‰0.05) with large effect size (>ā€‰0.8), sufficiently high statistical power (>ā€‰80%), and a narrower confidence interval (CI) in response to NF provided from the central brain region reflecting less uncertainty and higher precision. However, small effect size obtained with Laplacian montage require patients to be trained with Laplacian feedback to achieve a reliable conclusion regarding localized alpha modulation. The outcomes of this study are not only limited to validate true alpha modulation in response to central alpha feedback but also to explore the mechanism of central alpha NF training.