2015 IOCDF Grant

Targeted real-time NIRS-driven neurofeedback: A novel treatment for OCD

Benjamin Kelmendi, MD

Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, CT)

Award Amount: $47,890

Despite a variety of treatments for OCD existing, about a quarter of people with OCD do not experience a substantial decrease in symptoms. However, non-invasive treatments that target certain brain regions associated with OCD have been developed and shown promise.

This study by Dr. Kelmendi and his team aimed to further adapt an effective neurofeedback approach they developed which targets the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC; a brain region responsible for decision making which is linked to multiple regions related to emotion, reward, and cognition), which is hyperactive in people with OCD. The approach had relied on measurement of brain activity from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) — a machine whose size poses a barrier to wider use. By shifting measurement of brain activity from fMRI to near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) — a smaller and much more accessible method — this could make the neurofeedback approach more available to patients with OCD.