Probing Enhanced Learning following Brain Stimulation and Video Game Intervention in Depression

Attentional control is the ability to streamline information processing by selecting and amplifying task-relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information in order to conduct goal-directed behaviors. Recently, it has been proposed as a key mechanism in enhancing plasticity and learning, since it enables participants to learn to selectively use the attended features through feedback connections from higher-level areas to sensory areas. The goal of the current collaborative project is to collect preliminary data to further test the hypothesis that enhancing attentional control facilitates learning in a population of depressed individuals, by studying changes in neural mechanisms during learning.

This new project leverage a recently-funded collaboration (the EU-supported DiSCoVeR project) aiming at enhancing attentional control in individuals with depression using a novel intervention that combines non-invasive brain stimulation over the prefrontal cortex and video game play. We now have a rare collaborative opportunity that will allow us to begin to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the plastic changes induced by this novel intervention, using brain imaging paradigms developed in the Bavelier and Hummel labs. Critically, these paradigms are to be implemented in Nahum’s lab (HUJI) as patients from the DiSCoVeR project will be enrolled at her site but not at the UNIGE site. Results from this pilot project will be used to support a larger EU grant submission which aims at understanding the neural mechanisms of plasticity enhancement via attentional control modification, in both healthy individuals and clinically depressed ones.

Participants

Dr Mor Nahum, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Daphne Bavelier, University of Geneva

Prof. Friedhelm Hummel, EPFL