Concurrent TMS-fMRI Reveals Interactions between Dorsal and Ventral Attentional Systems

Joana Leitao, Axel Thielscher, Johannes Tuennerhoff, Uta Noppeney

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Adaptive behavior relies on combining bottom-up sensory inputs with top-down control signals to guide responses in line with current goals and task demands. Over the past decade, accumulating evidence has suggested that the dorsal and ventral frontoparietal attentional systems are recruited interactively in this process. This fMRI study used concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a causal perturbation approach to investigate the interactions between dorsal and ventral attentional systems and sensory processing areas. In a sustained spatial attention paradigm, human participants detected weak visual targets that were presented in the lower-left visual field on 50% of the trials. Further, we manipulated the presence/absence of task-irrelevant auditory signals. Critically, on each trial we applied 10 Hz bursts of four TMS (or Sham) pulses to the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). IPS-TMS relative to Sham-TMS increased activation in the parietal cortex regardless of sensory stimulation, confirming the neural effectiveness of TMS stimulation. Visual targets increased activations in the anterior insula, a component of the ventral attentional system responsible for salience detection. Conversely, they decreased activations in the ventral visual areas. Importantly, IPS-TMS abolished target-evoked activation increases in the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) of the ventral attentional system, whereas it eliminated target-evoked activation decreases in the right fusiform. Our results demonstrate that IPS-TMS exerts profound directional causal influences not only on visual areas but also on the TPJ as a critical component of the ventral attentional system. They reveal a complex interplay between dorsal and ventral attentional systems during target detection under sustained spatial attention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number32
Pages (from-to)11445-11457
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Primates Mammalia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Humans, Mammals, Primates, Vertebrates) - Hominidae [86215] human common adult female, male
  • 20504, Nervous system - Physiology and biochemistry
  • Neural Coordination
  • dorsal attentional system nervous system
  • dorsal parietal cortex nervous system
  • intraparietal sulcus nervous system
  • temporoparietal junction nervous system
  • ventral attentional system nervous system
  • spatial attention task laboratory techniques
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation-fMRI imaging and microscopy techniques, clinical techniques, therapeutic and prophylactic techniques
  • Methods and Techniques
  • Nervous System
  • Articles
  • Behavioral/Cognitive


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