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J Neurophysiol. 2009 Dec;102(6):3469-80. doi: 10.1152/jn.00350.2009. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

fMRI-guided TMS on cortical eye fields: the frontal but not intraparietal eye fields regulate the coupling between visuospatial attention and eye movements.

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Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


It is well known that parts of a visual scene are prioritized for visual processing, depending on the current situation. How the CNS moves this focus of attention across the visual image is largely unknown, although there is substantial evidence that preparation of an action is a key factor. Our results support the view that direct corticocortical feedback connections from frontal oculomotor areas to the visual cortex are responsible for the coupling between eye movements and shifts of visuospatial attention. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the frontal eye fields (FEFs) and intraparietal sulcus (IPS). A single pulse was delivered 60, 30, or 0 ms before a discrimination target was presented at, or next to, the target of a saccade in preparation. Results showed that the known enhancement of discrimination performance specific to locations to which eye movements are being prepared was enhanced by early TMS on the FEF contralateral to eye movement direction, whereas TMS on the IPS resulted in a general performance increase. The current findings indicate that the FEF affects selective visual processing within the visual cortex itself through direct feedback projections.

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