Transcranial cerebellar direct current stimulation and transcutaneous spinal cord direct current stimulation as innovative tools for neuroscientists

Alberto Priori, Matteo Ciocca, Marta Parazzini, Maurizio Vergari, Roberta Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Two neuromodulatory techniques based on applying direct current (DC) non-invasively through the skin, transcranial cerebellar direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcutaneous spinal DCS, can induce prolonged functional changes consistent with a direct influence on the human cerebellum and spinal cord. In this article we review the major experimental works on cerebellar tDCS and on spinal tDCS, and their preliminary clinical applications. Cerebellar tDCS modulates cerebellar motor cortical inhibition, gait adaptation, motor behaviour, and cognition (learning, language, memory, attention). Spinal tDCS influences the ascending and descending spinal pathways, and spinal reflex excitability. In the anaesthetised mouse, DC stimulation applied under the skin along the entire spinal cord may affect GABAergic and glutamatergic systems. Preliminary clinical studies in patients with cerebellar disorders, and in animals and patients with spinal cord injuries, have reported beneficial effects. Overall the available data show that cerebellar tDCS and spinal tDCS are two novel approaches for inducing prolonged functional changes and neuroplasticity in the human cerebellum and spinal cord, and both are new tools for experimental and clinical neuroscientists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3345-3369
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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