Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
How the cerebellum is involved in the practice and proficiency of non-motor functions is still unclear. We tested whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the cerebellum (cerebellar tDCS) induces after-effects on the practice-dependent increase in the proficiency of a working memory (WM) task (Sternberg test) in 13 healthy subjects. We also assessed the effects of cerebellar tDCS on visual evoked potentials (VEPs) in four subjects and compared the effects of cerebellar tDCS on the Sternberg test with those elicited by tDCS delivered over the prefrontal cortex in five subjects. Our experiments showed that anodal or cathodal tDCS over the cerebellum impaired the practice-dependent improvement in the reaction times in a WM task. Because tDCS delivered over the prefrontal cortex induced an immediate change in the WM task but left the practice-dependent proficiency unchanged, the effects of cerebellar tDCS are structure-specific. Cerebellar tDCS left VEPs unaffected, its effect on the Sternberg task therefore seems unlikely to arise from visual system involvement. In conclusion, tDCS over the cerebellum specifically impairs the practice-dependent proficiency increase in verbal WM.