Cerebellar tDCS: A Novel Approach to Augment Language Treatment Post-stroke
People with post-stroke aphasia may have some degree of chronic deficit for which current rehabilitative treatments are variably effective. Accumulating evidence suggests that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may be useful for enhancing the effects of behavioral aphasia treatment. However, it remains unclear which brain regions should be stimulated to optimize effects on language recovery. Here, we report on the therapeutic potential of right cerebellar tDCS in augmenting language recovery in SMY, who sustained bilateral MCA infarct resulting in aphasia and anarthria. We investigated the effects of 15 sessions of anodal cerebellar tDCS coupled with spelling therapy using a randomized, double-blind, sham controlled within-subject crossover trial. We also investigated changes in functional connectivity using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging before and 2 months post-treatment. Both anodal and sham treatments resulted in improved spelling to dictation for trained and untrained words immediately after and 2 months post-treatment. However, there was greater improvement with tDCS than with sham, especially for untrained words. Further, generalization to written picture naming was only noted during tDCS but not with sham. The resting state functional connectivity data indicate that improvement in spelling was accompanied by an increase in cerebro-cerebellar network connectivity. These results highlight the therapeutic potential of right cerebellar tDCS to augment spelling therapy in an individual with large bilateral chronic strokes.