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Manifestation of scotomas created by transcranial magnetic stimulation of human visual cortex


Reduced visual performance under transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of human visual cortex demonstrates suppression whose spatial extent is not directly visible. We created an artificial scotoma (region missing from a visual pattern) to directly visualize the location, size and shape of the TMS-induced suppression by following a large-field, patterned, visual stimulus with a magnetic pulse. The scotoma shifted with coil position according to known topography of visual cortex. Visual suppression resulted in pattern-dependent distortion, and the scotoma was filled in with temporally adjacent stimuli, suggesting spatial and temporal completion mechanisms. Thus, perceptual measurements of TMS-induced suppression may provide information about cortical processing via neuronal connections and temporal interactions of neural signals.

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Figure 1: Locally suppressed region in a large-field patterned stimulus.
Figure 2: Mapping of visual cortex.
Figure 3: Anisotropic suppressed region in oriented patterns.
Figure 4: Compression of the suppressed region in a radial pattern.
Figure 5: Filling in of the suppressed region in time.


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We thank Y. Ugawa, Y. Terao and R. Hanajima for technical instruction in transcranial magnetic stimulation and M. Konishi, C. Koch, B. Sheth and J. Weber for comments on the manuscript. We also thank I. Fujita and Y. Takahashi for discussions. Supported by Caltech Engineering Research Center NSF grant (#EEC-9402726).

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Correspondence to Yukiyasu Kamitani.

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Kamitani, Y., Shimojo, S. Manifestation of scotomas created by transcranial magnetic stimulation of human visual cortex. Nat Neurosci 2, 767–771 (1999).

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