Transcranial direct current stimulation over posterior parietal cortex modulates visuospatial localization

J Vis. 2014 Aug 7;14(9):5. doi: 10.1167/14.9.5.


Visual localization is based on the complex interplay of bottom-up and top-down processing. Based on previous work, the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is assumed to play an essential role in this interplay. In this study, we investigated the causal role of the PPC in visual localization. Specifically, our goal was to determine whether modulation of the PPC via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could induce visual mislocalization similar to that induced by an exogenous attentional cue (Wright, Morris, & Krekelberg, 2011). We placed one stimulation electrode over the right PPC and the other over the left PPC (dual tDCS) and varied the polarity of the stimulation. We found that this manipulation altered visual localization; this supports the causal involvement of the PPC in visual localization. Notably, mislocalization was more rightward when the cathode was placed over the right PPC than when the anode was placed over the right PPC. This mislocalization was found within a few minutes of stimulation onset, it dissipated during stimulation, but then resurfaced after stimulation offset and lasted for another 10-15 min. On the assumption that excitability is reduced beneath the cathode and increased beneath the anode, these findings support the view that each hemisphere biases processing to the contralateral hemifield and that the balance of activation between the hemispheres contributes to position perception (Kinsbourne, 1977; Szczepanski, Konen, & Kastner, 2010).

Keywords: interhemispheric competition; position perception; spatial attention; transcranial electrical stimulation; visual localization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Electric Stimulation* / methods
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult