Dynamics of EEG rhythms support distinct visual selection mechanisms in parietal cortex: a simultaneous transcranial magnetic stimulation and EEG study.

Research paper by Paolo P Capotosto, Sara S Spadone, Annalisa A Tosoni, Carlo C Sestieri, Gian Luca GL Romani, Stefania S Della Penna, Maurizio M Corbetta

Indexed on: 16 Jan '15Published on: 16 Jan '15Published in: The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience


Using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), we have recently shown a functional anatomical distinction in human parietal cortex between regions involved in maintaining attention to a location [ventral intraparietal sulcus (vIPS)] and a region involved in shifting attention between locations [medial superior parietal lobule (mSPL)]. In particular, while rTMS interference over vIPS impaired target discrimination at contralateral attended locations, interference over mSPL affected performance following shifts of attention regardless of the visual field (Capotosto et al., 2013). Here, using rTMS interference in conjunction with EEG recordings of brain rhythms during the presentation of cues that indicate to either shift or maintain spatial attention, we tested whether this functional anatomical segregation involves different mechanisms of rhythm synchronization. The transient inactivation of vIPS reduced the amplitude of the expected parieto-occipital low-α (8-10 Hz) desynchronization contralateral to the cued location. Conversely, the transient inactivation of mSPL, compared with vIPS, reduced the high-α (10-12 Hz) desynchronization induced by shifting attention into both visual fields. Furthermore, rTMS induced a frequency-specific delay of task-related modulation of brain rhythms. Specifically, rTMS over vIPS or mSPL during maintenance (stay cues) or shifting (shift cues) of spatial attention, respectively, caused a delay of α parieto-occipital desynchronization. Moreover, rTMS over vIPS during stay cues caused a delay of δ (2-4 Hz) frontocentral synchronization. These findings further support the anatomo-functional subdivision of the dorsal attention network in subsystems devoted to shifting or maintaining covert visuospatial attention and indicate that these mechanisms operate in different frequency channels linking frontal to parieto-occipital visual regions.