Schmitter, C.V. & Straube, B. (accepted). The impact of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on sensorimotor and inter-sensory temporal recalibration. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, section Brain Imaging and Stimulation. IF: 3.473
The characteristic temporal relationship between actions and their sensory outcomes allows us to distinguish self- from externally generated sensory events. However, the complex sensory environment can cause transient delays between action and outcome calling for flexible recalibration of predicted sensorimotor timing. Since the neural underpinnings of this process are largely unknown this study investigated the involvement of the cerebellum by means of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (ctDCS).
While receiving anodal, cathodal, dual-hemisphere or sham ctDCS, in an adaptation phase, participants were exposed to constant delays of 150ms between actively or passively generated button presses and visual sensory outcomes. Recalibration in the same (visual outcome) and in another sensory modality (auditory outcome) was assessed in a subsequent test phase during which variable delays between button press and visual or auditory outcome had to be detected.
Results indicated that temporal recalibration occurred in audition after anodal ctDCS while it was absent in vision. As the adaptation modality was visual, effects in audition suggest that recalibration occurred on a supra-modal level. In active conditions, anodal ctDCS improved sensorimotor recalibration at the delay level closest to the adaptation delay, suggesting a precise cerebellar-dependent temporal recalibration mechanism. In passive conditions, the facilitation of inter-sensory recalibration by anodal ctDCS was overall stronger and tuned to larger delays. These findings point to a role of the cerebellum in supra-modal temporal recalibration across sensorimotor and perceptual domains, but the differential manifestation of the effect across delay levels in active and passive conditions points to differences in the underlying mechanisms depending on the availability of action-based predictions. Furthermore, these results suggest that anodal ctDCS can be a promising tool for facilitating effects of temporal recalibration in sensorimotor and inter-sensory contexts.