Direct and indirect effects of cathodal cerebellar TDCS on visuomotor adaptation of hand and arm movements

Matthew Weightman, John-Stuart Brittain, R Chris Miall, Ned Jenkinson

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Adaptation of movements involving the proximal and distal upper-limb can be differentially facilitated by anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) over the cerebellum and primary motor cortex (M1). Here, we build on this evidence by demonstrating that cathodal TDCS impairs motor adaptation with a differentiation of the proximal and distal upper-limbs, relative to the site of stimulation. Healthy young adults received M1 or cerebellar cathodal TDCS while making fast 'shooting' movements towards targets under 60° rotated visual feedback conditions, using either whole-arm reaching or fine hand and finger movements. As predicted, we found that cathodal cerebellar TDCS resulted in impairment of adaptation of movements with the whole arm compared to M1 and sham groups, which proved significantly different during late adaptation. However, cathodal cerebellar TDCS also significantly enhanced adaptation of hand movements, which may reflect changes in the excitability of the pathway between the cerebellum and M1. We found no evidence for change of adaptation rates using arm or finger movements following cathodal TDCS directly over M1. These results are further evidence to support movement specific effects of TDCS, and highlight how the connectivity and functional organisation of the cerebellum and M1 must be considered when designing TDCS-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4464
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR). RCM was also partly funded by the Royal Society, Leverhulme and Wellcome Trust.


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