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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Dec;17(12):2841-52. Epub 2007 Mar 3.

Imaging the brain activity changes underlying impaired visuospatial judgments: simultaneous FMRI, TMS, and behavioral studies.

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Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Damage to parietal cortex impairs visuospatial judgments. However, it is currently unknown how this damage may affect or indeed be caused by functional changes in remote but interconnected brain regions. Here, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the parietal cortices during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants were solving visuospatial tasks. This allowed us to observe both the behavioral and the neural effects of transient parietal activity disruption in the active healthy human brain. Our results show that right, but not left, parietal TMS impairs visuospatial judgment, induces neural activity changes in a specific right-hemispheric network of frontoparietal regions, and shows significant correlations between the induced behavioral impairment and neural activity changes in both the directly stimulated parietal and remote ipsilateral frontal brain regions. The revealed right-hemispheric neural network effect of parietal TMS represents the same brain areas that are functionally connected during the execution of visuospatial judgments. This corroborates the notion that visuospatial deficits following parietal damage are brought about by a perturbation of activity across a specific frontoparietal network, rather than the lesioned parietal site alone. Our experiments furthermore show how concurrent fMRI and magnetic brain stimulation during active task execution hold the potential to identify and visualize networks of brain areas that are functionally related to specific cognitive processes.

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