Spino-cerebellar tDCS modulates N100 components of the P300 event related potential

Fabiana Ruggiero, Roberta Ferrucci, Tommaso Bocci, Martina Nigro, Maurizio Vergari, Sara Marceglia, Sergio Barbieri, Alberto Priori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the role of the cerebellum and spinal cord in cognitive processes, we assessed changes in event-related potentials (ERPs), before and after different combinations of spinal and cerebellar direct current stimulation (tDCS) in healthy subjects. Method: We enrolled 37 volunteers (11 males and 26 females, aged 20–50 years), who were subsequently randomly assigned to one of four stimulation conditions: i) anodal cerebellar tDCS, with the reference electrode over the right shoulder; ii) anodal spinal tDCS, with the reference electrode over the right shoulder; iii) anodal spinal tDCS with cathodal cerebellar tDCS, and iv) sham stimulation. Stimulation intensity was set at 2 mA and delivered for 20 min. ERPs were assessed in an auditory oddball task before (T0) and 5 (T1) and 30 min (T2) after tDCS offset. Results: In condition iii, spino-cerebellar tDCS, the N100 component at T2 increased in amplitude by 60% (p = 0.019), whereas the sham stimulation left the N100 amplitude unchanged (p > 0.05). Conclusion: The N100 wave reflects pre-attentive processes and correlates with arousal due to a specific stimuli and selective attention. Because spino-cerebellar tDCS induces electric fields in the brainstem, the facilitation of the N100 may be due to the modulation of the reticular formation. Regardless of the underlying mechanism, spino-cerebellar tDCS can help patients with deficits at the pre-attentive or selective attentional level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107231
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Attention
  • Cerebellum
  • N100
  • P300
  • Spinal cord
  • tDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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