The left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and random generation of responses: studies with transcranial magnetic stimulation

Neuropsychologia. 1999 Feb;37(2):181-90. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(98)00092-x.


Evidence from PET studies suggests that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is involved in generation of random responses. We used TMS to examine the specific role of this area in random generation of responses, a task which requires holding information 'on line', suppression of habitual or stereotyped response patterns, intrinsic response generation, monitoring of responses and modification of production strategies. From the results of a previous study of the effects of TMS on random number generation, we proposed a network modulation model, whereby suppression of habitual responses is considered a key process of random response generation and is achieved through the modulatory influence of the left DLPFC over an associative network distributed in the superior temporal cortex. The aim of the present study was to further investigate the generality of this model by examining the effects of short trains of TMS over the left or right DLPFC or medial frontal cortex on random letter generation in healthy participants. TMS over the left DLPFC significantly increased non-randomness relative to control no stimulation trials, which was not obtained with TMS over the right DLPFC or medial frontal cortex. The results suggest the generality of network modulation model of random response generation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology