TMS can reveal contrasting functions of the dorsal and ventral visual processing streams

Exp Brain Res. 2006 Nov;175(4):618-25. doi: 10.1007/s00221-006-0582-8. Epub 2006 Jul 4.


In order to investigate the functional specificity of the dorsal and ventral visual processing steams we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to briefly disrupt one or the other while subjects performed three tasks, involving discrimination of colour or shape or relative position. TMS was delivered over right posterior parietal cortex (PPC) or right lateral occipital (LO) cortex, regions known to have visuo-spatial and object processing properties respectively. LO but not PPC stimulation had a significant effect on reaction time when subjects were asked to make a discrimination of relative shape. PPC stimulation had a significant effect when subjects were asked to discriminate relative position of the same shapes. Stimulation of LO also lengthened reaction times on the position task. There were no effects of stimulation at either site on colour discrimination. Results are discussed within the framework of how the dorsal stream and ventral stream are dissociated following their damage in neurological patients and possible ways in which they may interact in the normal brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occipital Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*