The effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation on the latencies of vertical saccades
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In this study, we investigated the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the right posterior parietal cortex (PPC) on the latency of two different types of visually-guided vertical saccades: reflexive saccades triggered by the sudden onset of a target, and saccades towards target locations known in advance. For this reason, we used two oculomotor tasks: a gap and a delay task, respectively. Nine normal subjects performed vertical saccades at ±7.5 and ±15°. TMS was applied at 80 and 100 ms after target onset in the gap task, and after fixation offset in the delay task. Without TMS, we confirmed a latency asymmetry in the gap task favouring upward saccades at the lower eccentricity (7.5°), and a latency symmetry in the delay task. TMS increased the latencies of all saccades in the delay task, when delivered at 100 ms. This effect was mostly pronounced for downward saccades at 7.5°. As a result, saccade latencies showed an asymmetry in this condition, similar to the one observed in the gap task without TMS. The gap task with TMS resulted in a variable latency distribution and no significant overall effect on saccade latency. Our results indicate that the right PPC is involved in the initiation of vertical saccades in the delay task, and that this involvement appears to be enhanced for downward saccades. A conclusion for the involvement of this area in the gap task could not be drawn from this study.
KeywordsPosterior parietal cortex Spatial attention Fixation disengagement Gap task Delay task Vertical asymmetry
A.T. was supported by an EEC Marie Curie Individual Fellowship QLGA-CT-2001-51085, and Q.Y. was supported by an EEC contract QLK6-CT-2002-00151: Eurokinesis.
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