Concurrent TMS-fMRI reveals dynamic interhemispheric influences of the right parietal cortex during exogenously cued visuospatial attention.
ABSTRACT: We used concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional MRI (TMS-fMRI) during a visuospatial cueing paradigm in humans, to study the causal role of the right angular gyrus (AG) as a source of attentional control. Our findings show that TMS over the right AG (high vs. low intensity) modulates neural responses interhemispherically, in a manner that varies dynamically with the current attentional condition. The behavioural impact of such TMS depended not only on the target hemifield but also on exogenous cue validity, facilitating spatial reorienting to invalidly cued right visual targets. On a neural level, right AG TMS had corresponding interhemispheric effects in the left AG and left retinotopic cortex, including area V1. We conclude that the direction of covert visuospatial attention can involve dynamic interplay between the right AG and remote interconnected regions of the opposite left hemisphere, whereas our findings also suggest that the right AG can influence responses in the retinotopic visual cortex.
Project description:Left rostral dorsal premotor cortex (rPMd) and supramarginal gyrus (SMG) have been implicated in the dynamic control of actions. In 12 right-handed healthy individuals, we applied 30 min of low-frequency (1 Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over left rPMd to investigate the involvement of left rPMd and SMG in the rapid adjustment of actions guided by visuospatial cues. After rTMS, subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while making spatially congruent button presses with the right or left index finger in response to a left- or right-sided target. Subjects were asked to covertly prepare motor responses as indicated by a directional cue presented 1 s before the target. On 20% of trials, the cue was invalid, requiring subjects to readjust their motor plan according to the target location. Compared with sham rTMS, real rTMS increased the number of correct responses in invalidly cued trials. After real rTMS, task-related activity of the stimulated left rPMd showed increased task-related coupling with activity in ipsilateral SMG and the adjacent anterior intraparietal area (AIP). Individuals who showed a stronger increase in left-hemispheric premotor-parietal connectivity also made fewer errors on invalidly cued trials after rTMS. The results suggest that rTMS over left rPMd improved the ability to dynamically adjust visuospatial response mapping by strengthening left-hemispheric connectivity between rPMd and the SMG-AIP region. These results support the notion that left rPMd and SMG-AIP contribute toward dynamic control of actions and demonstrate that low-frequency rTMS can enhance functional coupling between task-relevant brain regions and improve some aspects of motor performance.
Project description:In healthy individuals, increasing cognitive load induces an asymmetric deployment of visuospatial attention, which favors the right visual space. To date, the neural mechanisms of this left/right attentional asymmetry are poorly understood. The aim of the present study was thus to investigate whether a left/right asymmetry under high cognitive load is due to a shift in the interhemispheric balance between the left and right posterior parietal cortices (PPCs), favoring the left PPC. To this end, healthy participants completed a visuospatial attention detection task under low and high cognitive load, whilst undergoing biparietal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Three different tDCS conditions were applied in a within-subjects design: sham, anodal left/cathodal right, and cathodal left/anodal right stimulation. The results revealed a left/right attentional asymmetry under high cognitive load in the sham condition. This asymmetry disappeared during cathodal left/anodal right tDCS, yet was not influenced by anodal left/cathodal right tDCS. There were no left/right asymmetries under low cognitive load in any of the conditions. Overall, these findings demonstrate that attentional asymmetries under high cognitive load can be modulated in a polarity-specific fashion by means of tDCS. They thus support the assumption that load-related asymmetries in visuospatial attention are influenced by interhemispheric balance mechanisms between the left and right PPCs.
Project description:There is considerable inter-study and inter-individual variation in the scalp location of parietal sites where transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may modulate visuospatial behaviours (e.g. see Ryan, Bonilha, & Jackson, 2006); and no clear consensus on methods for identifying such sites. Here we introduce a novel TMS "hunting paradigm" that allows rapid, reliable identification of a site over the right anterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS), where short trains (at 10 Hz for 0.5 s) of TMS disrupt performance of a visuospatial task. The task involves detection of a small peripheral gap (at 14 degrees eccentricity), on one or other (known) side of an extended (29 degrees ) horizontal line centred on fixation. Signal-detection analysis confirmed that TMS at the right IPS site reduced sensitivity (d') for gap targets in the left visual hemifield. A further experiment showed that the same right-parietal TMS increased sensitivity instead for gaps in the right hemifield. Comparing TMS across a grid of scalp locations around the identified 'hotspot' confirmed the spatial-specificity of the effective site. Assessment of the TMS intensity required to produce the phenomena found this was linearly related to individuals' resting motor TMS threshold over hand M1. Our approach provides a systematic new way to identify an effective site and intensity in individuals, at which TMS over right-parietal cortex reliably changes visuospatial sensitivity.
Project description:Neglect patients typically show a rightward attentional orienting bias and a strong disengagement deficit, such that they are especially slow in responding to left-sided targets after right-sided cues (Posner et al., 1984). Prism adaptation (PA) can reduce diverse debilitating neglect symptoms and it has been hypothesized that PA's effects are so generalized that they might be mediated by attentional mechanisms (Pisella et al., 2006; Redding and Wallace, 2006). In neglect patients, performance on spatial attention tasks improves after rightward-deviating PA (Jacquin-Courtois et al., 2013). In contrast, in healthy subjects, although there is evidence that leftward-deviating PA induces neglect-like performance on some visuospatial tasks, behavioral studies of spatial attention tasks have mostly yielded negative results (Morris et al., 2004; Bultitude et al., 2013). We hypothesized that these negative behavioral findings might reflect the limitations of behavioral measures in healthy subjects. Here we exploited the sensitivity of event-related potentials to test the hypothesis that electrophysiological markers of attentional processes in the healthy human brain are affected by PA. Leftward-deviating PA generated asymmetries in attentional orienting (reflected in the cue-locked N1) and in attentional disengagement for invalidly cued left targets (reflected in the target-locked P1). This is the first electrophysiological demonstration that leftward-deviating PA in healthy subjects mimics attentional patterns typically seen in neglect patients. Significance statement: Prism adaptation (PA) is a promising tool for ameliorating many deficits in neglect patients and inducing neglect-like behavior in healthy subjects. The mechanisms underlying PA's effects are poorly understood but one hypothesis suggests that it acts by modulating attention. To date, however, there has been no successful demonstration of attentional modulation in healthy subjects. We provide the first electrophysiological evidence that PA acts on attention in healthy subjects by mimicking the attentional pattern typically reported in neglect patients: both a rightward attentional orienting bias (reflected in the cue-locked N1) and a deficit in attentional disengagement from the right hemispace (reflected in the target-locked P1). This study makes an important contribution to refining current models of the mechanisms underlying PA's cognitive effects.
Project description:Brain regions beyond visual cortex are thought to be responsible for attention-related modulation of visual processing [1, 2], but most evidence is indirect. Here, we applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), including retinotopic mapping of visual areas, to patients with focal right-parietal lesions and left spatial neglect [3, 4]. When attentional load at fixation was minimal, retinotopic areas in right visual cortex showed preserved responses to task-irrelevant checkerboards in the contralateral left hemifield, analogously to left visual cortex for right-hemifield checkerboards, indicating a "symmetric" pattern in both hemispheres with respect to contralateral stimulation under these conditions. But when attentional load at fixation was increased, a functional asymmetry emerged for visual cortex, with contralateral responses in right visual areas being pathologically reduced (even eliminated for right V4/TEO), whereas left visual areas showed no such reduction in their contralateral response. These results reveal attention-dependent abnormalities in visual cortex after lesions in distant (parietal) regions. This may explain otherwise puzzling aspects of neglect [5, 6], as confirmed here by additional behavioral testing.
Project description:During natural vision, eye movements can drastically alter the retinotopic (eye-centered) coordinates of locations and objects, yet the spatiotopic (world-centered) percept remains stable. Maintaining visuospatial attention in spatiotopic coordinates requires updating of attentional representations following each eye movement. However, this updating is not instantaneous; attentional facilitation temporarily lingers at the previous retinotopic location after a saccade, a phenomenon known as the retinotopic attentional trace. At various times after a saccade, we probed attention at an intermediate location between the retinotopic and spatiotopic locations to determine whether a single locus of attentional facilitation slides progressively from the previous retinotopic location to the appropriate spatiotopic location, or whether retinotopic facilitation decays while a new, independent spatiotopic locus concurrently becomes active. Facilitation at the intermediate location was not significant at any time, suggesting that top-down attention can result in enhancement of discrete retinotopic and spatiotopic locations without passing through intermediate locations.
Project description:The temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) has been associated with various cognitive and social functions, and is critical for attentional reorienting. Attention affects early visual processing. Neuroimaging studies dealing with such processes have thus far concentrated on striate and extrastriate areas. Here, we investigated whether attention orienting or reorienting modulate activity in visually driven TPJ subregions. For each observer we identified 3 visually responsive subregions within TPJ: 2 bilateral (vTPJant and vTPJpost) and 1 right lateralized (vTPJcent). Cortical activity in these subregions was measured using fMRI while observers performed a 2-alternative forced-choice orientation discrimination task. Covert spatial endogenous (voluntary) or exogenous (involuntary) attention was manipulated using either a central or a peripheral cue with task, stimuli and observers constant. Both endogenous and exogenous attention increased activity for invalidly cued trials in right vTPJpost; only endogenous attention increased activity for invalidly cued trials in left vTPJpost and in right vTPJcent; and neither type of attention modulated either right or left vTPJant. These results demonstrate that vTPJpost and vTPJcent mediate the reorientation of covert attention to task relevant stimuli, thus playing a critical role in visual attention. These findings reveal a differential reorienting cortical response after observers' attention has been oriented to a given location voluntarily or involuntarily.
Project description:The relationship between visuospatial attention and paw preference was investigated in domestic dogs. Visuospatial attention was evaluated using a food detection task that closely matches the so-called "cancellation" task used in human studies. Paw preference was estimated by quantifying the dog's use of forepaws to hold a puzzle feeder device (namely the "Kong") while eating its content. Results clearly revealed a strong relationship between visuospatial attention bias and motor laterality, with a left-visuospatial bias in the left-pawed group, a right-visuospatial bias in the right-pawed group and with the absence of significant visuospatial attention bias in ambi-pawed subjects. The current findings are the first evidence for the presence of a relationship between motor lateralization and visuospatial attentional mechanisms in a mammal species besides humans.
Project description:Previous studies demonstrated that excitatory (high frequency) offline transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) modulates attention allocation on threatening stimuli in non-clinical samples. These studies only employed offline TMS protocol that did not allow investigating the effect of the stimulation on the early stage of threat processing. In this study, the role of the right and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in early threat processing was investigated in high and low anxious individuals by means of an inhibitory single-pulse online TMS protocol. Our results demonstrated the role of the left DLPFC in an early stage of threat processing and that this effect is modulated by individuals' anxiety level. The inhibitory stimulation of the left DLPFC determined a disengagement bias in high anxious individuals, while the same stimulation determined an attentional avoidance in low anxious individuals. The findings of the present study suggest that right and left DLPFC are differently involved in early threat processing of healthy individuals.
Project description:Behavioral effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) often show substantial differences between subjects. One factor that might contribute to these inter-individual differences is the interaction of current brain states with the effects of local brain network perturbation. The aim of the current study was to identify brain regions whose connectivity before and following right parietal perturbation affects individual behavioral effects during a visuospatial target detection task. 20 subjects participated in an fMRI experiment where their brain hemodynamic response was measured during resting state, and then during a visuospatial target detection task following 1?Hz rTMS and sham stimulation. To select a parsimonious set of associated brain regions, an elastic net analysis was used in combination with a whole-brain voxel-wise functional connectivity analysis. TMS-induced changes in accuracy were significantly correlated with the pattern of functional connectivity during the task state following TMS. The functional connectivity of the left superior temporal, angular, and precentral gyri was identified as key explanatory variable for the individual behavioral TMS effects. Our results suggest that the brain must reach an appropriate state in which right parietal TMS can induce improvements in visual target detection. The ability to reach this state appears to vary between individuals.