Multifocal stimulation of the cerebro-cerebellar loop during the acquisition of a novel motor skill.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)-based interventions for augmenting motor learning are gaining interest in systems neuroscience and clinical research. Current approaches focus largely on monofocal motorcortical stimulation. Innovative stimulation protocols, accounting for motor learning related brain network interactions also, may further enhance effect sizes. Here, we tested different stimulation approaches targeting the cerebro-cerebellar loop. Forty young, healthy participants trained a fine motor skill with concurrent tDCS in four sessions over two days, testing the following conditions: (1) monofocal motorcortical, (2) sham, (3) monofocal cerebellar, or (4) sequential multifocal motorcortico-cerebellar stimulation in a double-blind, parallel design. Skill retention was assessed after circa 10 and 20 days. Furthermore, potential underlying mechanisms were studied, applying paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation and multimodal magnetic resonance imaging-based techniques. Multisession motorcortical stimulation facilitated skill acquisition, when compared with sham. The data failed to reveal beneficial effects of monofocal cerebellar or additive effects of sequential multifocal motorcortico-cerebellar stimulation. Multimodal multiple linear regression modelling identified baseline task performance and structural integrity of the bilateral superior cerebellar peduncle as the most influential predictors for training success. Multisession application of motorcortical tDCS in several daily sessions may further boost motor training efficiency. This has potential implications for future rehabilitation trials.
PMID: 33469089 [PubMed – in process]
Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 19;11(1):1756
Authors: Wessel MJ, Park CH, Beanato E, Cuttaz EA, Timmermann JE, Schulz R, Morishita T, Koch PJ, Hummel FC