Role of the posterior parietal cortex in the initiation of saccades and vergence: right/left functional asymmetry

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Apr;1039:184-97. doi: 10.1196/annals.1325.018.


This study explored in humans the role of the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in saccades, vergence, and combined saccade-vergence movements by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS was applied to the right PPC at 80 ms, 90 ms, or 100 ms after target onset in experiment 1, and to the left PPC in experiment 2. Control experiments were also run in which TMS was applied over the primary motor cortex at 90 ms after target onset. Relative to no-TMS trials, TMS over the right PPC prolonged significantly the latency of almost all eye movements (saccades in either direction, convergence, divergence, and components of combined eye movements). Such latency increase was significant mostly when TMS was delivered 90 ms after target onset. In contrast, TMS of the left PPC increased the latency only for saccades to right, convergence, and convergence combined with rightward saccades; latency increase occurred for all time windows of TMS deliver (80, 90, or 100 ms after target onset). TMS over the vertex had no effect on the latency for any type of eye movement. TMS of either the left or the right PPC or of the motor cortex did not alter the accuracy of any type of eye movement. Thus, the effects of TMS on latency are time-, area-, and eye-movement-specific. We suggest that the right PPC is involved primarily in the processing of fixation disengagement, whereas the left PPC participates in the initiation of eye movements via different spatial selective mechanisms that concern exclusively targets to the right and/or to near.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / radiation effects
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception / physiology*