TMS reveals inhibitory extrastriate cortico-cortical feedback modulation of V1 activity in humans

Brain Struct Funct. 2019 Dec;224(9):3399-3408. doi: 10.1007/s00429-019-01964-z. Epub 2019 Oct 17.


The interaction between the primary visual cortex (V1) and extrastriate visual areas provides the first building blocks in our perception of the world. V2, in particular, seems to play a crucial role in shaping contextual modulation information through feedback projections to V1. However, whether this feedback is inhibitory or excitatory is still unclear. In order to test the nature of V2 feedback to V1, we used neuronavigation-guided offline inhibitory transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on V2 before testing participants on collinear facilitation, a contrast detection task with lateral masking. This contextual modulation task is thought to rely on horizontal connections in V1 and possibly extrastriate feedback. Results showed that when inhibitory TMS was delivered over V2, contrast thresholds decreased for targets presented in the contralateral hemifield, consistent with the retinotopic mapping of this area, while having no effect for targets presented in the ipsilateral hemifield or after control (CZ) stimulation. These results suggest that feedback from V2 to V1 during contextual modulation is mostly inhibitory, corroborating recent observations in monkey electrophysiology and extending this mechanism to human visual system. Moreover, we provide for the first time direct evidence of the involvement of extrastriate visual areas in collinear facilitation.

Keywords: Brain mechanisms; Brain stimulation; Contextual modulation; Extrastriate feedback; TMS.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neural Inhibition*
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*