Visual awareness suppression by pre-stimulus brain stimulation: a neural effect

Jacobs, C., Goebel, R. and Sack, A.T. 2012. Visual awareness suppression by pre-stimulus brain stimulation: a neural effect. NeuroImage. 59 (1), pp. 616-624. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.090

TitleVisual awareness suppression by pre-stimulus brain stimulation: a neural effect
AuthorsJacobs, C., Goebel, R. and Sack, A.T.
Abstract

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has established the functional relevance of early visual cortex (EVC) for visual awareness with great temporal specificity non-invasively in conscious human volunteers. Many studies have found a suppressive effect when TMS was applied over EVC 80–100 ms after the onset of the visual stimulus (post-stimulus TMS time window). Yet, few studies found task performance to also suffer when TMS was applied even before visual stimulus presentation (pre-stimulus TMS time window). This pre-stimulus TMS effect, however, remains controversially debated and its origin had mainly been ascribed to TMS-induced eye-blinking artifacts. Here, we applied chronometric TMS over EVC during the execution of a visual discrimination task, covering an exhaustive range of visual stimulus-locked TMS time windows ranging from − 80 pre-stimulus to 300 ms post-stimulus onset. Electrooculographical (EoG) recordings, sham TMS stimulation, and vertex TMS stimulation controlled for different types of non-neural TMS effects. Our findings clearly reveal TMS-induced masking effects for both pre- and post-stimulus time windows, and for both objective visual discrimination performance and subjective visibility. Importantly, all effects proved to be still present after post hoc removal of eye blink trials, suggesting a neural origin for the pre-stimulus TMS suppression effect on visual awareness. We speculate based on our data that TMS exerts its pre-stimulus effect via generation of a neural state which interacts with subsequent visual input.

JournalNeuroImage
Journal citation59 (1), pp. 616-624
ISSN1053-8119
YearJan 2012
PublisherElsevier
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.090
Publication dates
PublishedJan 2012

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