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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

June 2009, Vol. 21, No. 6, Pages 1146-1161
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21097)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hemispheric Differences in Frontal and Parietal Influences on Human Occipital Cortex: Direct Confirmation with Concurrent TMS–fMRI
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We used concurrent TMS–fMRI to test directly for hemispheric differences in causal influences of the right or left fronto-parietal cortex on activity (BOLD signal) in the human occipital cortex. Clinical data and some behavioral TMS studies have been taken to suggest right-hemisphere specialization for top–down modulation of vision in humans, based on deficits such as spatial neglect or extinction in lesioned patients, or findings that TMS to right (vs. left) fronto-parietal structures can elicit stronger effects on visual performance. But prior to the recent advent of concurrent TMS and neuroimaging, it was not possible to directly examine the causal impact of one (stimulated) brain region upon others in humans. Here we stimulated the frontal or intraparietal cortex in the left or right hemisphere with TMS, inside an MR scanner, while measuring with fMRI any resulting BOLD signal changes in visual areas V1–V4 and V5/MT+. For both frontal and parietal stimulation, we found clear differences between effects of right- versus left-hemisphere TMS on activity in the visual cortex, with all differences significant in direct statistical comparisons. Frontal TMS over either hemisphere elicited similar BOLD decreases for central visual field representations in V1–V4, but only right frontal TMS led to BOLD increases for peripheral field representations in these regions. Hemispheric differences for effects of parietal TMS were even more marked: Right parietal TMS led to strong BOLD changes in V1–V4 and V5/MT+, but left parietal TMS did not. These data directly confirm that the human frontal and parietal cortex show right-hemisphere specialization for causal influences on the visual cortex.