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Article
Nature Neuroscience  7, 1266 - 1270 (2004)
Published online: 3 October 2004; Corrected online: 10 October 2004 | doi:10.1038/nn1328

Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the occipital pole interferes with verbal processing in blind subjects

Amir Amedi1, 4, 5, Agnes Floel2, 3, 5, Stefan Knecht3, Ehud Zohary1 & Leonardo G Cohen2

1  Neurobiology Department, Life Science Institute and Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.

2  Human Cortical Physiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1428, USA.

3  University of Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 33, 48148 Muenster, Germany.

4  Present address: Laboratory for Magnetic Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

5  These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence should be addressed to Leonardo G Cohen cohenl@ninds.nih.gov or Ehud Zohary udiz@lobster.ls.huji.ac.il
Recent neuroimaging studies in blind persons show that the occipital cortex, including the primary visual cortex (V1), is active during language-related and verbal-memory tasks. No studies, however, have identified a causal link between early visual cortex activity and successful performance on such tasks. We show here that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the occipital pole reduces accuracy on a verb-generation task in blind subjects, but not in sighted controls. An analysis of error types revealed that the most common error produced by rTMS was semantic; phonological errors and interference with motor execution or articulation were rare. Thus, in blind persons, a transient 'virtual lesion' of the left occipital cortex interferes with high-level verbal processing.
*Note: The version of this article that was published online on October 3, 2004, listed incorrect affiliations for one author. Amir Amedi is not affiliated with the Human Cortical Physiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1428, USA. In addition, the original online version failed to note that the Laboratory for Magnetic Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA is Amir Amedi's present address. The online version was corrected on 10 October 2004, and the printed version of this article is correct.

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Nature Neuroscience
ISSN: 1097-6256
EISSN: 1546-1726
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