Single session high definition transcranial direct current stimulation to the cerebellum does not impact higher cognitive function
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The prefrontal cortex is central to higher order cognitive function. However, the cerebellum, generally thought to be involved in motor control and learning, has also been implicated in higher order cognition. Recent work using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) provides some support for right cerebellar involvement in higher order cognition, though the results are mixed, and often contradictory. Here, we used cathodal high definition tDCS (HD-tDCS) over the right cerebellum to assess the impact of HD-tDCS on modulating cognitive performance. We predicted that stimulation would result in performance decreases, which would suggest that optimal cerebellar function is necessary for cognitive performance, much like the prefrontal cortex. That is, it is not simply a structure that lends support to complete difficult tasks. While the expected cognitive behavioral effects were present, we did not find effects of stimulation. This has broad implications for cerebellar tDCS research, particularly for those who are interested in using HD-tDCS as a way of examining cerebellar function. Further implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed with particular emphasis on why null findings might be critical in developing a clear picture of the effects of tDCS on the cerebellum.
author list (cited authors)
Maldonado, T., Goen, J., Imburgio, M. J., Eakin, S. M., & Bernard, J. A.