Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
TMS interference over right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) causally disrupts behaviorally and EEG rhythmic correlates of endogenous spatial orienting before visual target presentation [Capotosto, P., Babiloni, C., Romani, G. L., & Corbetta, M. Differential contribution of right and left parietal cortex to the control of spatial attention: A simultaneous EEG-rTMS study. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 446–454, 2012; Capotosto, P., Babiloni, C., Romani, G. L., & Corbetta, M. Fronto-parietal cortex controls spatial attention through modulation of anticipatory alpha rhythms. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 5863–5872, 2009]. Here we combine data from our previous studies to examine whether right parietal TMS during spatial orienting also impairs stimulus-driven reorienting or the ability to efficiently process unattended stimuli, that is, stimuli outside the current focus of attention. Healthy volunteers (n = 24) performed a Posner spatial cueing task while their EEG activity was being monitored. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) was applied for 150 msec simultaneously to the presentation of a central arrow directing spatial attention to the location of an upcoming visual target. Right IPS-rTMS impaired target detection, especially for stimuli presented at unattended locations; it also caused a modulation of the amplitude of parieto-occipital positive ERPs peaking at about 480 msec (P3) post-target. The P3 significantly decreased for unattended targets and significantly increased for attended targets after right IPS-rTMS as compared with sham stimulation. Similar effects were obtained for left IPS stimulation albeit in a smaller group of volunteers. We conclude that disruption of anticipatory processes in right IPS has prolonged effects that persist during target processing. The P3 decrement may reflect interference with postdecision processes that are part of stimulus-driven reorienting. Right IPS is a node of functional interaction between endogenous spatial orienting and stimulus-driven reorienting processes in human vision.