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A systematic review of fMRI neurofeedback reporting and effects in clinical populations

Publication year 2020
Published in Neuroimage. Clinical
Authors Anita Tursic, Judith Eck, Michael Lührs, David E J Linden, R. Goebel

Real-time fMRI-based neurofeedback is a relatively young field with a potential to impact the currently available treatments of various disorders. In order to evaluate the evidence of clinical benefits and investigate how consistently studies report their methods and results, an exhaustive search of fMRI neurofeedback studies in clinical populations was performed. Reporting was evaluated using a limited number of Consensus on the reporting and experimental design of clinical and cognitive-behavioral neurofeedback studies (CRED-NF checklist) items, which was, together with a statistical power and sensitivity calculation, used to also evaluate the existing evidence of the neurofeedback benefits on clinical measures. The 62 found studies investigated regulation abilities and/or clinical benefits in a wide range of disorders, but with small sample sizes and were therefore unable to detect small effects. Most points from the CRED-NF checklist were adequately reported by the majority of the studies, but some improvements are suggested for the reporting of group comparisons and relations between regulation success and clinical benefits. To establish fMRI neurofeedback as a clinical tool, more emphasis should be placed in the future on using larger sample sizes determined through a priori power calculations and standardization of procedures and reporting.

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