Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over supplementary motor area (SMA) but not pre-SMA promotes short-term visuomotor learning

Brain Stimulation
Henning VollmannPatrick Ragert


Non-invasive brain stimulation such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to modulate cortical excitability and thereby influencing motor behaviour and learning. While there is increasing knowledge about the importance of the primary motor cortex (M1) in short- and long-term motor skill learning, little is known about the role of secondary motor areas such as the supplementary and pre-supplementary motor area (SMA/pre-SMA) especially in short-term motor performance. Since SMA but not pre-SMA is directly connected to M1, we hypothesize that anodal tDCS over SMA but not pre-SMA will facilitate visuomotor learning. We applied anodal tDCS (tDCS(anodal)) over left SMA, pre-SMA or M1 (n=12 in each group) while subjects performed a visuomotor pinch force task (VPFT) with their right hand and compared VPFT performance relative to sham (tDCS(sham)). For the first time, we could show that apart from tDCS(anodal) over left M1 also SMA but not pre-SMA stimulation promotes short-term improvements in visuomotor learning relative to tDCS(sham). Our findings provide novel evidence about the role of SMA in short-term visuomotor performance. This knowledge might be beneficial in developing hypothesis-driven clinical st...Continue Reading


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