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Disruption of right cerebellum with rTMS blocks predictive language processing


Meyer,  Antje S.
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;
Individual Differences in Language Processing Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Lesage, E., Morgan, B., Olson, A., Meyer, A. S., & Miall, R. (2012). Disruption of right cerebellum with rTMS blocks predictive language processing. Poster presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience [Neuroscience 2012] Poster# 379.07/UU5, New Orleans, LA.

Much evidence demonstrates cerebellar involvement in language [1] but a theoretical framework about its precise role is lacking. In cerebellar motor control an influential model ascribes the cerebellum a predictive role [2]. It has been argued that cerebellar nonmotor regions perform similar computations as motor regions, and both are involved in online prediction [2]. We test this hypothesis by administering repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the right cerebellum, a region implicated in language [3] during a predictive language task. Methods Visual World task [4]: Participants' eye movements were recorded while they listened to sentences and looked at a computer display of an agent and 4 objects, one of which (the target) was mentioned in the sentence. In the Prediction condition the object could be predicted on the basis of the verb; on Control trials it could not. We hypothesised that rTMS to the right cerebellum should make target fixation slower in the Prediction condition, but not in the Control condition. TMS protocol: TMS was delivered between two task blocks. In the cerebellar rTMS group (n = 22) the stimulation site was 1cm down and 3cm right of the inion. Participants received 10min of 1Hz rTMS. In addition, we tested two control groups. In the vertex rTMS group (n = 21), rTMS was applied at the same intensity, duration and frequency as in the cerebellar rTMS group, but over the vertex. In the no stimulation group (n = 22) the coil was placed over the cerebellar stimulation site but no pulses were delivered. Results As hypothesised, participants in the cerebellar rTMS group took longer to fixate the target after TMS in the Prediction condition but not in the Control condition (Block-by-Condition interaction: F(1,21) = 8.848, p = 0.007). This interaction was not found in either the vertex rTMS group (F(1,20) = 0.064, p = 0.802) or the no stimulation group (F(1,21) = 2.461, p = 0.132). Conclusions Here, we show that rTMS to the right cerebellum selectively affects linguistic prediction. These results provide additional evidence that the cerebellum plays a role in language and support theoretical accounts that the cerebellum contributes to nonmotor functions, as it does to motor functions, by online prediction. 1. Strick et al (2009). Cerebellum and nonmotor function. Annu Rev Neurosci, 32, 413-134 2. Miall et al (1993). Is the cerebellum a Smith predictor. J Mot Behav, 25, 203-216 3. Marien et al (2001). The lateralised linguistic cerebellum: a review and a new hypothesis. Brain and Language, 79, 580-600 4. Altmann & Kamide (1999). Incremental interpretation at verbs. Cognition, 73, 247-264