We found evidence that people can upregulate their dopaminergic reward circuit using mental imagery. This works even better when they receive fMRI neurofeedback of their substantia nigra brain region. Interestingly, this also appears to work in cocaine users – at least in those without strong obsessive-compulsive drug use.
Like we showed in our study on the Aha!-moment, mentally generated feelings of reward can activate brain areas that produce dopamine. Could neurofeedback be a new form of self-guided cognitive brain stimulation?
Self-regulation of the dopaminergic reward circuit in cocaine users with mental imagery and neurofeedback. Matthias Kirschner, Ronald Sladky, Amelie Haugg, Philipp Stämpfli, Elisabeth Jehli, Martina Hodel, Etna Engeli, Sarah Hösli, Markus R Baumgartner, James Sulzer, Quentin J M Huys, Erich Seifritz, Boris B Quednow, Frank Scharnowski, Marcus Herdener. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(18)30472-9/fulltext