Cerebellar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Impairs Visual Working Memory


An increasing body of evidence points to the involvement of the cerebellum in cognition. Specifically, previous studies have shown that the superior and inferior portions of the cerebellum are involved in diferent verbal working memory (WM) mechanisms as part of two separate cerebro-cerebellar loops for articulatory rehearsal and phonological storage mechanisms. In comparison, our understanding of the involvement of the cerebellum in visual WM remains limited. We have previously shown that performance in verbal WM is disrupted by single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the right superior cerebellum. The present study aimed to expand on this notion by exploring whether the inferior cerebellum is similarly involved in visual WM. Here, we used fMRI-guided, double-pulse TMS to probe the necessity of left superior and left inferior cerebellum in visual WM. We first conducted an fMRI localizer using the Sternberg visual WM task, which yielded targets in left superior and inferior cerebellum. Subsequently, TMS stimulation of these regions at the end of the encoding phase resulted in decreased accuracy in the visual WM task. Differences in the visual WM deficits caused by stimulation of superior and inferior left cerebellum raise the possibility that these regions are involved in different stages of visual WM.

Viñas-Guasch, N., Ng, T. H. B., Heng, J. G., Chan, Y. C., Chew, E., Desmond, J. E., & Chen, S. H. A. (2022). Cerebellar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Impairs Visual Working Memory. The Cerebellum.
Annabel Chen
Annabel Chen
Professor of Psychology
Lab Director

Dr. SH Annabel Chen is a clinical neuropsychologist, and currently a Faculty member of Psychology at the School of Social Sciences.