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Title: The role of cerebellar GABA in visuomotor adaptation
Author: Nettekoven, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0005 0291 601X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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In daily life we must constantly adapt our movements to changes in the environment or changes in our body. Adaptation is a fundamental property of the central nervous system and involves plastic changes across a network of brain regions, in particular in the cerebellum. These changes likely involve the major inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. How cerebellar GABA changes during adaptation and how these changes are linked to behaviour is currently not well understood. By combining brain imaging (Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation; tDCS) with computational modelling of behaviour, this thesis investigates the relationship between GABA, plasticity and motor adaptation. First, the effects of stimulating the cerebellum with anodal tDCS were investigated. We found no effect of tDCS on adaptation, but an effect of session. We then studied the relationship between M1 GABA concentration and adaptation. We found that GABA concentration at baseline measured from left M1 hand area predicted retention of an adapted movement of the right hand. Next we investigated changes in functional connectivity elicited by adaptation. After performing an adaptation task, cerebellar resting-state functional connectivity was increased. Further, the change in a cerebellar network correlated with adaptation performance. Finally, we explored changes in cerebellar GABA during adaptation. During adaptation, cerebellar GABA decreased in the right compared to the left cerebellar hemisphere, controlling for GABA changes during movement execution. This work provides first evidence that GABA decreases during adaptation in the right compared to the left cerebellar hemisphere. It strengthens the theory of cerebellar involvement in adaptation and suggests that cerebellar GABA plays an important role during adaptation. It also highlights the importance of M1 GABA in retaining the adaptive movement. Taken together, these results demonstrate a potential mechanism by which adaptation may be achieved in the cerebellum. In order to develop interventions that successfully and reliably enhance adaptation, it is crucial to understand the factors that influence these changes in the cerebellum and across the motor network.
Supervisor: Stagg, Charlotte ; Jenkinson, Edward Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medicine ; Neuroimaging ; Psychology ; Neuroscience