Branislav Savic

Improving implicit task sequence learning and consolidation with transcranial magnetic stimulation

PhD student: Branislav Savic (Serbian & Italian)

Supervisors: Beat Meier (Psychology) & Rene Müri (Neurology)

Most of the events in our environment follow sequences. For dealing with such an environment we developed the ability to learn sequences. Often sequences are learnt without intention resulting in knowledge difficult to express consciously or implicit. Hence the ability to learn sequences without intention is termed implicit sequence learning.

Brain imaging and patients studies showed that frontal brain regions have a role in implicit sequence learning. However these studies are not able to determine the causal role of these regions for implicit sequence learning. The aim of our project was to disentangle the causal role of a specific area of the frontal regions, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), for implicit sequence learning. For achieving this goal non-invasive brain stimulation technologies were used to temporary excite or inhibit the DLPFC. In Experiment 1 transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was applied above the DLPFC and implicit sequence learning was measured. In Experiment 2 transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technology that has a higher spatial resolution than tDCS, was applied above the DLPFC and implicit sequence learning was measured. The results of Experiment 1 showed that tDCS did not influence implicit sequence learning. At the present moment we are analyzing data of Experiment 2.

Photo Branislav

This project started in September 2013 and ended in October 2016.