Cerebellar direct current stimulation modulates pain perception in humans

Tommaso Bocci, Enrica Santarcangelo, Beatrice Vannini, Antonio Torzini, Giancarlo Carli, Roberta Ferrucci, Alberto Priori, Massimiliano Valeriani, Ferdinando Sartucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The cerebellum is involved in a wide number of integrative functions, but its role in pain experience and in the nociceptive information processing is poorly understood. In healthy volunteers we evaluated the effects of transcranial cerebellar direct current stimulation (tcDCS) by studying the changes in the perceptive threshold, pain intensity at given stimulation intensities (VAS:0-10) and laser evoked potentials (LEPs) variables (N1 and N2/P2 amplitudes and latencies). Methods: Fifteen subjects were studied before and after anodal, cathodal and sham tcDCS. LEPs were obtained using a neodymium:yttrium-aluminium-perovskite (Nd:YAP) laser and recorded from the dorsum of the left hand. VAS was evaluated by delivering laser pulses at two different intensities, respectively two and three times the perceptive threshold. Results: Cathodal polarization dampened significantly the perceptive threshold and increased the VAS score, while the anodal one had opposite effects. Cathodal tcDCS increased significantly the N1 and N2/P2 amplitudes and decreased their latencies, whereas anodal tcDCS elicited opposite effects. Motor thresholds assessed through transcranial magnetic stimulation were not affected by cerebellar stimulation. Conclusions: tcDCS modulates pain perception and its cortical correlates. Since it is effective on both N1 and N2/P2 components, we speculate that the cerebellum engagement in pain processing modulates the activity of both somatosensory and cingulate cortices. Present findings prompt investigation of the cerebellar direct current polarization as a possible novel and safe therapeutic tool in chronic pain patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-609
Number of pages13
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 5 2015

Keywords

  • cerebellar direct current stimulation
  • laser evoked potentials
  • Pain cerebellum
  • pain modulation
  • tDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology

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