Previous studies have shown that cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) leads to faster adaptation of arm reaching movements to visuomotor rotation and force field perturbations in healthy subjects. The first aim of the present study was to confirm a stimulation-dependent effect on motor adaptation. Second, we investigated whether tDCS effects differ depending on onset, that is, before or at the beginning of the adaptation phase. A total of 120 healthy and right-handed subjects (60 women, mean age 23.2 ± SD 2.7 yr, range 18-31 yr) were tested. Subjects moved a cursor with a manipulandum to one of eight targets presented on a vertically orientated screen. Three baseline blocks were followed by one adaptation block and three washout blocks. Sixty subjects did a force field adaptation task (FF), and 60 subjects did a visuomotor adaptation task (VM). Equal numbers of subjects received anodal, cathodal, or sham cerebellar tDCS beginning either in the third baseline block or at the start of the adaptation block. In FF and VM, tDCS and the onset of tDCS did not show a significant effect on motor adaptation (all P values >0.05). We were unable to support previous findings of modulatory cerebellar tDCS effects in reaching adaptation tasks in healthy subjects. Prior to possible application in patients with cerebellar disease, future experiments are needed to determine which tDCS and task parameters lead to robust tDCS effects. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising tool to improve motor learning. We investigated whether cerebellar tDCS improves motor learning in force field and visuomotor tasks in healthy subjects and what influence the onset of stimulation has. We did not find stimulation effects of tDCS or an effect of onset of stimulation. A reevaluation of cerebellar tDCS in healthy subjects and at the end of the clinical potential in cerebellar patients is demanded.

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Keywords adaptation, cerebellum, force field, tDCS, visuomotor
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00352.2018, hdl.handle.net/1765/117543
Journal Journal of Neurophysiology
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Citation
Mamlins, A. (A.), Hulst, T, Donchin, O, Timmann, D, & Claassen, J. (J.). (2019). No effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation on force field and visuomotor reach adaptation in young and healthy subjects. Journal of Neurophysiology, 121(6), 2112–2125. doi:10.1152/jn.00352.2018