the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation to the human posterior parietal cortex
The ability to decide which of the two stimuli is presented first can be probed using a temporal order judgment (TOJ) task. When the stimuli are delivered to the fingers, TOJ decisions can be confounded by the fact that the hands can be moved to different locations in space. How and where this confounded information is processed in the brain is poorly understood. In the present set of experiments, we addressed this knowledge gap by using singlepulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to disrupt processing in the right or left posterior parietal cortex (PPC) during a vibrotactile TOJ task with stimuli applied to the right and left index fingers. In the first experiment, participants held their hands in an uncrossed configuration, and we found that when the index finger contralateral to the site of TMS was stimulated first, there was a significant increase in TOJ errors. This increase did not occur when stimuli were delivered to the ipsilateral finger first. In the second experiment, participants held their hands in a crossed configuration and the pattern of errors was reversed relative to the first experiment. In both the first two experiments, significant increases in TOJ error were present with TMS over either hemisphere, regardless of arm configuration; however, they were larger overall following TMS over the right PPC. Control experiments using sham TMS indicated the systematic modulation in error was not due to nonspecific effects of the stimulation. Additionally, we showed that these TMS-induced changes in TOJ errors were not due to a reduced ability to detect the timing of the vibrotactile stimuli. Taken together, these results demonstrate that both the right and left PPC contribute to the processing underlying vibrotactile TOJs by integrating vibrotactile information and proprioceptive information related to arm position in space.
Experimental Brain Research, 2014, Vol 232, Issue 6, p. 1689-1698
Temporal order judgment; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Posterior parietal cortex; Vibrotactile; Spatial