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Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience
Volume 2007 (2007), Article ID 25487, 10 pages
Review Article

fMRI Brain-Computer Interface: A Tool for Neuroscientific Research and Treatment

1Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Tübingen, 72074, Germany
2Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, P.O. Box 21 69, Tübingen 72076, Germany
3Institute for Natural Language Processing, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart 70174, Germany
4National Institute of Health (NIH), NINDS, Human Cortical Physiology, Bethesda, MD 20892-1428, USA

Received 28 February 2007; Revised 2 August 2007; Accepted 18 September 2007

Academic Editor: Shangkai Gao

Copyright © 2007 Ranganatha Sitaram et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Brain-computer interfaces based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI-BCI) allow volitional control of anatomically specific regions of the brain. Technological advancement in higher field MRI scanners, fast data acquisition sequences, preprocessing algorithms, and robust statistical analysis are anticipated to make fMRI-BCI more widely available and applicable. This noninvasive technique could potentially complement the traditional neuroscientific experimental methods by varying the activity of the neural substrates of a region of interest as an independent variable to study its effects on behavior. If the neurobiological basis of a disorder (e.g., chronic pain, motor diseases, psychopathy, social phobia, depression) is known in terms of abnormal activity in certain regions of the brain, fMRI-BCI can be targeted to modify activity in those regions with high specificity for treatment. In this paper, we review recent results of the application of fMRI-BCI to neuroscientific research and psychophysiological treatment.