Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex improves probabilistic category learning

Sang Soo Cho, Eun Jin Yoon, Jung Mo Lee, Sang Eun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Traditionally, it has been thought that probabilistic category learning, one of the implicit memory functions, is dependent on the basal ganglia. However, there is growing evidence indicating the involvement of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in probabilistic category learning. In order to identify the causal role of DLPFC in probabilistic category learning, we investigated whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the left DLPFC influences the learning ability in healthy subjects using the weather prediction task (WPT). Application of 10 Hz rTMS over the left DLPFC induced significant improvement in the total hit rate during the total trials of the WPT, compared with sham stimulation. Specifically, the improvement was significant in the early and late learning blocks of the WPT, but not in the intermediate block of learning. These results indicate that the left DLPFC may play an important role in probabilistic category learning, possibly by influencing not only on embodied information application in late stage of the learning but also on memory encoding for working memory demands in early stage of the learning via frontostriatal and frontohippocampal circuits, respectively. They also may lend support to the possibility that rTMS can improve implicit learning ability in patients with basal ganglia disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-449
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Basal ganglia
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Implicit memory
  • Probabilistic category learning
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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