Does anodal cerebellar tDCS boost transfer of after-effects from throwing to pointing during prism adaptation?

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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Prism Adaptation is a useful method to study the mechanisms of sensorimotor adaptation. After-effects following adaptation to the prismatic deviation constitute the probe that adaptive mechanisms occurred, and current evidence suggests an involvement of the cerebellum at this level. Whether after-effects are transferable to another task is of great interest both for understanding the nature of sensorimotor transformations and for clinical purposes. However, the processes of transfer and their underlying neural substrates remain poorly understood. Transfer from throwing to pointing is known to occur only in individuals who had previously reached a good level of expertise in throwing, not in novices. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether anodal stimulation of the cerebellum could boost after-effects transfer from throwing to pointing in novice participants. Healthy participants received anodal or sham transcranial direction current stimulation of the right cerebellum during a PA procedure involving a throwing task and were tested for transfer on a pointing task. Terminal errors and kinematic parameters were in the dependent variables for statistical analyses. Results showed that active stimulation had no significant beneficial effects on error reduction or throwing after-effects. Moreover, the overall magnitude of transfer to pointing did not change. Interestingly, we found a significant effect of the stimulation on the longitudinal evolution of pointing errors and on pointing kinematic parameters during transfer assessment. These results provide new insights on the implication of the cerebellum in transfer and on the possibility to use anodal tDCS to enhance cerebellar contribution during PA in further investigations. From a network approach, we suggest that cerebellum is part of a more complex circuitry responsible for the development of transfer which is likely embracing the primary motor cortex due to its role in motor memories consolidation. This paves the way for further work entailing multiple-sites stimulation to explore the role of M1-cerebellum dynamic interplay in transfer.



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