Changes in EEG Rhythms and Spike Activity of Brainstem Dopaminergic Neurons Induced by Neurofeedback Sessions in Cats

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Abstract

We examined the dynamics of the ratios of spectral power densities (SPDs) of the alpha vs theta rhythms (α/θ ratio). of EEG and of the spiking frequency of supposedly dopaminergic (DA) neurons of the ventral tegmentum in the course of neurofeedback sessions directed toward changes in the EEG characteristics. Trainings were performed using techniques analogous to that used in neurofeedback sessions in humans. The level of the noise acoustic signal presented to the animal decreased with increase in the α/θ ratio in the occipital leads. In the control realizations, there were no dependences between the intensity of the acoustic signal and modulation of the current EEG. It was found that the animals learned, in a conditioned-reflex mode, to correlate changes in the intensity of the sound signal and power of the EEG rhythms and to control the latter; a high sound intensity was probably considered a factor of discomfort. The α/θ ratio in the course of neurofeedback sessions changed due to some increase in the SPD of the alpha EEG component and a noticeable drop in the SPD of theta oscillations. In a parallel manner with such modifications, augmentation of the spike activity of DA neurons was observed. Probable mechanisms of the involvement of the cerebral DA system in the formation of the effects of neurofeedback sessions are discussed.

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