Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the posterior parietal cortex delays the latency of both isolated and combined vergence-saccade movements in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2004 Apr 22;360(1-2):95-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2004.01.077.


To explore the 3D visual environment most frequently we make combined saccade-vergence eye movements. We studied the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the right posterior parietal cortex (rPPC) on such combined eye movements versus isolated saccade and vergence. In the main experiment, TMS was applied on the rPPC 80, 90 or 100 ms after target onset. In a control experiment, TMS was applied over the primary motor cortex at 90 ms after the target presentation. TMS trials were compared with no-TMS trials. TMS of the motor cortex had no effect at all on eye movements. TMS of the rPPC had no effect on the accuracy of eye movements, but it caused a latency increase: the increase was similar for the two components of the combined saccade-vergence movements, and it did not alter the naturally existing tight relationship of latency between the two components. Furthermore, the amount of latency prolongation was similar to that of isolated vergence, and of saccades in either direction (ipsilateral or contralateral relative to the stimulated site). Latency prolongation was time-specific but in a different way for different types of eye movements: for combined and convergence eye movements, the critical time window was -130 ms or more prior to the onset of eye movement, while for saccades and divergence TMS was disruptive later, -110 ms or more prior to the onset of eye movements. The latency increase is attributed to the interference by the TMS with the fixation disengagement process, for which the rPPC is believed to be instrumental. These results suggest that fixation disengagement occurs earlier for convergence and combined eye movements than for saccades and divergence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Convergence, Ocular / physiology*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*