Scientific article
Open access

Multi-focal Stimulation of the Cortico-cerebellar Loop During the Acquisition of a Novel Hand Motor Skill in Chronic Stroke Survivors

Published inCerebellum, vol. 23, no. 2, p. 341-354
Publication date2024-04
First online date2023-02-18

Impairment of hand motor function is a frequent consequence after a stroke and strongly determines the ability to regain a self-determined life. An influential research strategy for improving motor deficits is the combined application of behavioral training and non-invasive brain stimulation of the motor cortex (M1). However, a convincing clinical translation of the present stimulation strategies has not been achieved yet. One alternative and innovative approach is to target the functionally relevant brain network-based architecture, e.g., the dynamic interactions within the cortico-cerebellar system during learning. Here, we tested a sequential multifocal stimulation strategy targeting the cortico-cerebellar loop. Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was applied simultaneously to a hand-based motor training in N = 11 chronic stroke survivors during four training sessions on two consecutive days. The tested conditions were: sequential multifocal (M1-cerebellum (CB)-M1-CB) vs. monofocal control stimulation (M1-sham-M1-sham). Additionally, skill retention was assessed 1 and 10 days after the training phase. Paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation data were recorded to characterize stimulation response determining features. The application of CB-tDCS boosted motor behavior in the early training phase in comparison to the control condition. No faciliatory effects on the late training phase or skill retention were detected. Stimulation response variability was related to the magnitude of baseline motor ability and short intracortical inhibition (SICI). The present findings suggest a learning phase-specific role of the cerebellar cortex during the acquisition of a motor skill in stroke and that personalized stimulation strategies encompassing several nodes of the underlying brain network should be considered.

  • Cerebellum
  • M1
  • Motor learning
  • Multifocal stimulation
  • Stroke
  • TDCS
  • Humans
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Hand
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Cerebellum / physiology
Citation (ISO format)
WESSEL, M J et al. Multi-focal Stimulation of the Cortico-cerebellar Loop During the Acquisition of a Novel Hand Motor Skill in Chronic Stroke Survivors. In: Cerebellum, 2024, vol. 23, n° 2, p. 341–354. doi: 10.1007/s12311-023-01526-4
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal1473-4222

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