Neural changes associated with cerebellar tDCS studied using MR spectroscopy

Roya Jalali, Alimul Chowdhury, Martin Wilson, Rowland Miall, Joseph Galea

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10 Citations (Scopus)
237 Downloads (Pure)


Anodal cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is known to enhance motor learning, and therefore, has been suggested to hold promise as a therapeutic intervention. However, the neural mechanisms underpinning the effects of cerebellar tDCS are currently unknown. We investigated the neural changes associated with cerebellar tDCS using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). 34 healthy participants were divided into two groups which received either concurrent anodal or sham cerebellar tDCS during a visuomotor adaptation task. The anodal group underwent an additional session involving MRS in which the main inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters: GABA and glutamate (Glu) were measured pre-, during, and post anodal cerebellar tDCS, but without the behavioural task. We found no significant group-level changes in GABA or glutamate during- or post-tDCS compared to pre-tDCS levels, however, there was large degree of variability across participants. Although cerebellar tDCS did not affect visuomotor adaptation, surprisingly cerebellar tDCS increased motor memory retention with this being strongly correlated with a decrease in cerebellar glutamate levels during tDCS across participants. This work provides novel insights regarding the neural mechanisms which may underlie cerebellar tDCS, but also reveals limitations in the ability to produce robust effects across participants and between studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997–1006
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Early online date5 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Cerebellum
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • MR spectroscopy
  • motor adaptation
  • Non-invasive stimulation


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