G. Caccianiga, R. A. Mooney, P. A. Celnik, G. L. Cantarero, J. D. Brown.
Anodal Cerebellar t-DCS Impacts Skill Learning and Transfer on a Robotic Surgery Training Task, 18 January 2023, PREPRINT (Version 1) available at Research Square [https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-2471990/v1] (Abstract,Links)
The cerebellum has demonstrated a critical role during adaptation in motor learning. However, the extent to which it can contribute to the skill acquisition of complex real-world tasks remains unclear. One particularly challenging application in terms of motor activities is robotic surgery, which requires surgeons to complete complex multidimensional visuomotor tasks through a remotely operated robot. Given the need for high skill proficiency and the lack of haptic feedback, there is a pressing need for understanding and improving skill development. We investigated the effect of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation applied during the execution of a robotic surgery training task. Study participants received either real or sham stimulation while performing a needle driving task in a virtual (simulated) and a real-world (actual surgical robot) setting. We found that cerebellar stimulation significantly improved performance compared to sham stimulation at fast (more demanding) execution speeds in both virtual and real-world training settings. Furthermore, participants that received cerebellar stimulation more effectively transferred the skills they acquired during virtual training to the real world. Our findings underline the potential of non-invasive brain stimulation to enhance skill learning and transfer in real-world relevant tasks and, more broadly, its potential for improving complex motor learning.