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Courellis, Hristos S.; Courelli, Asimina S.; Friedrich, Elisabeth V. C.; Pineda, Jaime A. (2019): [Chapter 11] Using a Novel Approach to Assess Dynamic Cortical Connectivity Changes Following Neurofeedback Training in Children on the Autism Spectrum. In: Oberman, Lindsay M.; Enticott, Peter G. (eds.) : Neurotechnology and Brain Stimulation in Pediatric Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Academic Press. pp. 253-276
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Abstract

Power spectrum neurofeedback (NF) has been used in recent years as a treatment modality for children diagnosed with a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders. As an intervention, NF places direct emphasis on normalizing electrophysiological features associated with the disorder, and appropriate quantification of this normalization plays a role in assessing the effectiveness of the methodology. In this chapter, we discuss a novel analytical approach for quantifying the effects of NF on children diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and correlating these effects to changes in behavioral outcomes. Cortical network-connectivity analysis was used to evaluate dynamic causal connectivity between selected cortical regions of interest while participants performed a social-empathy task before and after treatment with NF. The task involved the presentation of faces expressing either positive (happy) or negative (angry and fearful) emotions. Asymmetric causal interactions between cortical network nodes were modeled by means of directed spectro-temporal internodal interactions within the theta, alpha, beta, and gamma frequency bands. Changes in the spectro-temporal dynamics of two distinct cortical networks were observed—one for the positive and another for the negative emotional conditions. Correlations between changes in cortical connectivity and changes in behavioral scores, as measured by the Social Responsiveness Scale and Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, were also noted. The findings suggest that power spectrum NF makes significant quantifiable changes in cortical connectivity in high-functioning ASD children that correlate favorably with behavioral outcomes. This provides a methodology and the analytical means for individual assessment of NF effectiveness conducive for personalizing this as a therapeutic approach.