Anodal Direct Current Stimulation of the Cerebellum Reduces Cerebellar Brain Inhibition but Does Not Influence Afferent Input from the Hand or Face in Healthy Adults

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Journal Article
Cerebellum, 2016, 15 (4), pp. 466 - 474
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© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Background: The cerebellum controls descending motor commands by outputs to primary motor cortex (M1) and the brainstem in response to sensory feedback. The cerebellum may also modulate afferent input en route to M1 and the brainstem. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine if anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the cerebellum influences cerebellar brain inhibition (CBI), short afferent inhibition (SAI) and trigeminal reflexes (TRs) in healthy adults. Methods: Data from two studies evaluating effects of cerebellar anodal and sham tDCS are presented. The first study used a twin coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol to investigate CBI and combined TMS and cutaneous stimulation of the digit to assess SAI. The second study evaluated effects on trigemino-cervical and trigemino-masseter reflexes using peripheral nerve stimulation of the face. Results: Fourteen right-handed healthy adults participated in experiment 1. CBI was observed at baseline and was reduced by anodal cerebellar DCS only (P < 0.01). There was SAI at interstimulus intervals of 25 and 30 ms at baseline (both P < 0.0001), but cerebellar tDCS had no effect. Thirteen right-handed healthy adults participated in experiment 2. Inhibitory reflexes were evoked in the ipsilateral masseter and sternocleidomastoid muscles. There was no effect of cerebellar DCS on either reflex. Conclusions: Anodal DCS reduced CBI but did not change SAI or TRs in healthy adults. These results require confirmation in individuals with neurological impairment.
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