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J Neurophysiol. 1998 Aug;80(2):936-46.

Visualization of the information flow through human oculomotor cortical regions by transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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Department of Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8655, USA.


We investigated the topography of human cortical activation during an antisaccade task by focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We used a figure-eight shaped coil, with the stimulus intensity set just above the threshold for activation of the hand motor areas but weak enough not to elicit blinks. TMS was delivered at various time intervals (80, 100, and 120 ms) after target presentation over various sites on the scalp while the subjects performed the antisaccade task. It was possible to elicit a mild but significant delay in saccade onset over 1) the frontal regions (a region 2-4 cm anterior and 2-4 cm lateral to hand motor area) and 2) posterior parietal regions (6-8 cm posterior and 0-4 cm lateral to hand motor area) regardless of which hemisphere was stimulated. The frontal regions were assumed to correspond to a cortical region including the frontal eye fields (FEFs), whereas the parietal regions were assumed to represent a wide region that includes the posterior parietal cortices (PPCs). The regions inducing the delay shifted from the posterior parietal regions at an earlier interval (80 ms) to the frontal regions at a later interval (100 ms), which suggested an information flow from posterior to anterior cortical regions during the presaccadic period. At 120 ms, the effect of TMS over the frontal regions still persisted but was greatly diminished. Erroneous prosaccades to the presented target were elicited over a wide cortical region including the frontal and posterior parietal regions, which again showed a forward shift with time. However, the distribution of effective regions exhibited a clear contralateral predominance in terms of saccade direction. Our technique provides a useful method not only for detecting the topography of cortical regions active during saccadic eye movement, but also for constructing a physiological map to visualize the temporal evolution of functional activities in the relevant cortical regions.

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