Cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation impairs the practice-dependent proficiency increase in working memory

R. Ferrucci, S. Marceglia, M. Vergari, F. Cogiamanian, S. Mrakic-Sposta, F. Mameli, S. Zago, S. Barbieri, A. Priori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

How the cerebellum is involved in the practice and proficiency of non-motor functions is still unclear. We tested whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the cerebellum (cerebellar tDCS) induces after-effects on the practicedependent increase in the proficiency of a working memory (WM) task (Sternberg test) in 13 healthy subjects. We also assessed the effects of cerebellar tDCS on visual evoked potentials (VEPs) in four subjects and compared the effects of cerebellar tDCS on the Sternberg test with those elicited by tDCS delivered over the prefrontal cortex in five subjects. Our experiments showed that anodal or cathodal tDCS over the cerebellum impaired the practice-dependent improvement in the reaction times in a WM task. Because tDCS delivered over the prefrontal cortex induced an immediate change in the WM task but left the practice-dependent proficiency unchanged, the effects of cerebellar tDCS are structure-specific. Cerebellar tDCS left VEPs unaffected, its effect on the Sternberg task therefore seems unlikely to arise from visual system involvement. In conclusion, tDCS over the cerebellum specifically impairs the practice-dependent proficiency increase in verbal WM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1697
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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