Purpose and methods: The study sought to alter visual spatial attention in young healthy subjects by a neuronavigated inhibitory rTMS protocol (cTBS-600) to right brain areas thought to be involved in visual attentional processes, i.e. the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and the posterior middle frontal gyrus (pMFG), and to test the reversibility of effects by an additional consecutive cTBS to the homologue left brain cortical areas.
Results: Healthy subjects showed a leftward bias of the egocentric perspective for both visual-perceptive and visual-exploratory tasks specifically for items presented in the left hemifield. cTBS to the right TPJ, and less systematically to the right pMFG reduced this bias for visuo-spatial and exploratory visuo-motor behaviour. Further, a consecutive cTBS to the left TPJ changed the bias again towards the left for a visual-perceptive task.
Conclusions: The evidence supports the notion of an involvement of the right TPJ (and pMFG) in spatial visual attention. The observations further indicate that inhibitory non-invasive brain stimulation (cTBS) to the left TPJ has a potential for reversing a rightward bias of spatial attention when the right TPJ is dysfunctional. Accordingly, the findings could have implications for therapeutic rTMS development for right brain damaged patients with visual neglect.
Keywords: MFG; Neglect; TPJ; allocentric; cortex; egocentric; exploration; middle frontal gyrus; spatial attention; temporoparietal junction; transcranial magnetic stimulation.