Decoded Neurofeedback Toward Bias and Racism Mitigation (2021-2022)

Racial bias is a prevailing problem that demands actions. From the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 to the 8 minute and 46 second kneeling on George Floyd in 2020, understanding why these events occurred is increasingly crucial in promoting social equality. Although racism is a multidimensional issue that is culturally and socially embedded, the root of it lies in categorical thinking, which distorts perceptions and causes ingroup bias. 

While advanced neuroimaging technology has shed light on specific brain regions that mediate biases, no specific treatments are currently available to downregulate this complex phenomenon at the system neuroscience level. However, a novel neural intervention method, neurofeedback, which induces specific changes in brain activity patterns, has proven effective in mitigating obsessive compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, depression and schizophrenia; subconsciously modulating confidence; and reducing phobia for common fears. This project aims to apply this proven line of neurofeedback technique to downregulate ingroup bias and alleviate racist tendency. 

This team sought to understand the neural basis of ingroup bias through advanced functional neuroimaging; validate the effectiveness of decoded neurofeedback on the downregulation of neural representation underlying ingroup bias; develop a proof-of-concept protocol for clinical applications; extend fMRI decoded neurofeedback methods to “modulate” racial biases; and raise public awareness that biases could be modulated.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Summer 2021 – Summer 2022 

Team Outputs

Decoded neurofeedback model applicable for reducing in-group bias

This Team in the News

During Pandemic, Duke and Duke Kunshan Students Find a Home at the Other Campus

Neurofeedback Taking on In-group Bias

See related team, Decoded Neurofeedback Toward Bias and Racism Mitigation (2022-2023).


Image: fMRI Image of Preteen Brain, by NIH Image Gallery, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

fMRI Image of Preteen Brain.

Team Leaders

  • Sze chai Kwok, Duke Kunshan University
  • James Moody, Arts & Sciences-Sociology
  • Joseph Quinn, Arts and Sciences-Sociology-Ph.D. Student

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Anu Aggarwal, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Alexandra Bayer, Political Science (AB)
  • Morgan Biele, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Arunangshu Chakrabarty, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Greta Cywinska, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Abigail Groth, Biology (BS)
  • Imani Hall, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Dunhan Jiang, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Jenny Li, Sociology (AB)
  • Yushi Li, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Mackenzie Martinez, Biology (BS)
  • Catherine Mbata
  • Eliana Shapiro, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Reah Syed, Biology (BS)
  • Casey Szilagyi, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Chenyu Wang, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Sihan Wang, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Zhou Xia, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Anqi Xie, Neuroscience (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Yudian Cai, Duke Kunshan University

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance
  • Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International
  • Jianqi Li, East China Normal University