The effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on voluntary covert attention
Although the cerebellum is primarily known for its role in motor coordination and motor learning, recent research indicates that it is also involved in cognitive functions such as attention. The current study used a mild brain stimulation technique – transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to further investigate the involvement of the cerebellum in attention. Specifically, we were interested in the effects of stimulation to the left lateral cerebellum on a voluntary covert attention task. Voluntary covert attention refers to an intentional shifting of attention without moving one’s eyes (e.g. paying attention to an object in your periphery). Participants completed 3 sessions: sham (no stimulation), cathodal (-), and anodal (+) stimulation. In this exploratory study, our main interest was to demonstrate a modulation of performance on the attention task following cerebellar tDCS. Therefore, any difference in performance on the attention task following either cathodal or anodal stimulations compared to sham were of interest. Consistent with previous findings, the results show that participants were faster compared to invalidly cued targets; however, these effects were not systematically altered by tDCS. We argue that the absence of any effects of tDCS on voluntary covert attention could be related to the stimulation parameters used, or the sensitivity of the behavioural tasks employed.
Presented on April 24, 2017 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.
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