Patients with Parkinson’s disease suffer from typical motor symptoms (resting tremor, bradykinesia), but also from cognitive deficits, i.a. in implicit motor sequence learning (IMSL). This is the ability to perform multiple single movements in a specific sequential order, without intention and without the need for conscious awareness. IMSL is involved in many of our daily activities such as turning, dressing, typing and playing the piano.
In recent years, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has gained considerable interest in the treatment of Parkinson’s patients as this non-invasive brain stimulation technique is safe, easy to administer and is already known to induce improvements in i.a. freezing of gait and bradykinesia. In healthy adults, it has also been shown that tDCS can improve IMSL when delivered over the primary motor cortex, as well as the cerebellum.
In this project, we will investigate the effects of tDCS on IMSL, when delivered over (a) the primary motor cortex and (b) the cerebellum of patients with Parkinson’s disease and age-matched healthy controls.
Our aim is (1) to gain fundamental insight into the neural mechanisms underlying IMSL, with a particular focus on the cerebellar network and the basal ganglia network, and (2) to develop evidence-based clinical tDCS protocols, tailored to the clinical phenotype of Parkinson’s disease patients.