TMS over the right precuneus reduces the bilateral field advantage in visual short term memory capacity

Brain Stimul. Mar-Apr 2015;8(2):216-23. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2014.11.004. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Background: Several studies have demonstrated a bilateral field advantage (BFA) in early visual attentional processing, that is, enhanced visual processing when stimuli are spread across both visual hemifields. The results are reminiscent of a hemispheric resource model of parallel visual attentional processing, suggesting more attentional resources on an early level of visual processing for bilateral displays [e.g. Sereno AB, Kosslyn SM. Discrimination within and between hemifields: a new constraint on theories of attention. Neuropsychologia 1991;29(7):659-75.]. Several studies have shown that the BFA extends beyond early stages of visual attentional processing, demonstrating that visual short term memory (VSTM) capacity is higher when stimuli are distributed bilaterally rather than unilaterally.

Objective/hypothesis: Here we examine whether hemisphere-specific resources are also evident on later stages of visual attentional processing.

Methods: Based on the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) [Bundesen C. A theory of visual attention. Psychol Rev 1990;97(4):523-47.] we used a whole report paradigm that allows investigating visual attention capacity variability in unilateral and bilateral displays during navigated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the precuneus region.

Results: A robust BFA in VSTM storage capacity was apparent after rTMS over the left precuneus and in the control condition without rTMS. In contrast, the BFA diminished with rTMS over the right precuneus.

Conclusion: This finding indicates that the right precuneus plays a causal role in VSTM capacity, particularly in bilateral visual displays.

Keywords: Parietal cortex; TVA; VSTM; Visual attention; Visual processing speed; rTMS.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult