Foto Goebel

Rainer Goebel
Professor for Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University, Netherlands.

Towards understanding the neural mechanisms of clinical fMRI neurofeedback

In real-time fMRI neurofeedback studies, subjects observe and learn to modulate their own brain activity during ongoing fMRI measurements. Because of its high spatial resolution, fMRI allows to provide content-specific feedback information from circumscribed cortical and subcortical regions. We have recently shown that fMRI neurofeedback training not only enhances voluntary control over brain regions but that it also has a significant therapeutic effect for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and patients with mood disorders such as major depression. At present it is not clear how much of the obtained therapeutic effects can be attributed to a “high-tech” placebo effect. Using conventional (3 Tesla) as well as ultra-high field MRI (7 Tesla), we currently investigate the neural mechanisms of fMRI neurofeedback and discuss new findings related to activity in reward networks as well as structural connectivity changes between engaged brain areas.



Rainer Goebel studied psychology and computer science in Marburg, Germany (1983-1988) and completed his PhD in 1994 at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. He received the Heinz Maier Leibnitz Advancement award in cognitive science in 1993 sponsored by the German minister of science and education, and the Heinz Billing award from the Max Planck society in 1994 for developing a software package for the creation and simulation of deep neural network models. From 1995-1999 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt/Main in the department of Wolf Singer where he founded the functional neuroimaging group.

Since January 2000, he is a full professor for Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University, Netherlands. He is founding director of the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (M-BIC) and the driving force of the recently established ultra-high field imaging center housing 3, 7 and 9.4 Tesla human MRI scanners. From 2008-2017 he was team leader of the “Modeling and Neuroimaging” group at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam. He has served as chair of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (2006-2008). In 2014 he became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017 he became member of the German National Academy of Science (Leopoldina). He received funding for basic and applied neuroscience research including an ERC Advanced Investigators Grant (2011 – 2016) and funding from the EU flagship “Human Brain Project”.