Investigating cerebellar influence on theory of mind via transcranial magnetic stimulation
LE3 .A278 2021
Bachelor of Science
The cerebellum, while traditionally thought to play a role in motor coordination, is now hypothesized to be associated with many aspects of cognition. It is theorized that the cerebellum contributes predictions about future motor, sensory, and cognitive states and modifies its output based on whether these predictions are met. Patients with cerebellar damage often have problems with theory of mind (ToM), which includes an ability to predict others’ mental states. Here we propose a study to investigate whether inhibition of the cerebellum in healthy subjects will have an effect on ToM; we hypothesized that a temporary lesion to the cerebellum would have greater influence on ToM than a control site. To test this, participants would be quantitatively scored on ToM before and after experiencing transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is a non-invasive procedure that would target and temporarily inhibit the function of the cerebellum or a control site. Simulated pre and post-TMS scores for cerebellar TMS and control groups were analyzed and appeared to support our hypothesis; participants that received cerebellar TMS experienced significant differences in ToM compared to the control group, and TMS to the cerebellum significantly decreased participants’ ToM ability. These results, if born from a real study, would provide support for emerging hypotheses implying a broader range of cerebellar function exists than what is traditionally accepted to be so.
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