Somatosensory inputs modulate the excitability of cerebellar-cortical interaction

Clin Neurophysiol. 2021 Dec;132(12):3095-3103. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2021.08.026. Epub 2021 Oct 18.


Objective: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) delivered over the cerebellum 5-7 ms prior to a stimulus over the contralateral primary motor cortex (M1) reduces the excitability of M1 output, a phenomenon termed cerebellar brain inhibition (CBI). The cerebellum receives sensory information for adaptive motor coordination and motor planning. Here, we explored through TMS whether a peripheral electrical stimulus modulates CBI.

Methods: We studied the effect of right median nerve electrical stimulation (ES) on CBI from right cerebellum (conditioning stimulus, CS) to left M1 (test stimulus, TS) in 12 healthy subjects. The following ES-CS inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs) were tested: 25, 30 and 35 ms. CS-TS ISI was set at 5 ms.

Results: We found significantly weaker CBI when the ES was delivered 25 ms (p < 0.001) and 35 ms (p < 0.001) earlier the CS over the ipsilateral cerebellum and a trend for 30 ms ES-CS ISI (p = 0.07).

Conclusions: We hypothesize that the activation of cerebellar interneurons together with intrinsic properties of Purkinje cells may be responsible of the decreased CBI when the peripheral stimulation preceded the cerebellar stimulation of 25 and 35 ms.

Significance: To test the interaction between somatosensory inputs and cerebello-cortical pathway may be important in a variety of motor tasks and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Cerebellar brain inhibition; Cerebellum; Motor learning; Peripheral stimulation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult