TMS of posterior parietal cortex disrupts visual tactile multisensory integration

Eur J Neurosci. 2010 May;31(10):1783-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07193.x.


Functional neuroimaging studies have implicated a number of brain regions, especially the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), as being potentially important for visual-tactile multisensory integration. However, neuroimaging studies are correlational and do not prove the necessity of a region for the behavioral improvements that are the hallmark of multisensory integration. To remedy this knowledge gap, we interrupted activity in the PPC, near the junction of the anterior intraparietal sulcus and the postcentral sulcus, using MRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) while subjects localized touches delivered to different fingers. As the touches were delivered, subjects viewed a congruent touch video, an incongruent touch video, or no video. Without TMS, a strong effect of multisensory integration was observed, with significantly better behavioral performance for discrimination of congruent multisensory touch than for unisensory touch alone. Incongruent multisensory touch produced a smaller improvement in behavioral performance. TMS of the PPC eliminated the behavioral advantage of both congruent and incongruent multisensory stimuli, reducing performance to unisensory levels. These results demonstrate a causal role for the PPC in visual-tactile multisensory integration. Taken together with converging evidence from other studies, these results support a model in which the PPC contains a map of space around the hand that receives input from both the visual and somatosensory modalities. Activity in this map is likely to be the neural substrate for visual-tactile multisensory integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*