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      Perceiving What Is Reachable Depends on Motor Representations: Evidence from a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study

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          Visually determining what is reachable in peripersonal space requires information about the egocentric location of objects but also information about the possibilities of action with the body, which are context dependent. The aim of the present study was to test the role of motor representations in the visual perception of peripersonal space.


          Seven healthy participants underwent a TMS study while performing a right-left decision (control) task or perceptually judging whether a visual target was reachable or not with their right hand. An actual grasping movement task was also included. Single pulse TMS was delivered 80% of the trials on the left motor and premotor cortex and on a control site (the temporo-occipital area), at 90% of the resting motor threshold and at different SOA conditions (50ms, 100ms, 200ms or 300ms).

          Principal Findings

          Results showed a facilitation effect of the TMS on reaction times in all tasks, whatever the site stimulated and until 200ms after stimulus presentation. However, the facilitation effect was on average 34ms lower when stimulating the motor cortex in the perceptual judgement task, especially for stimuli located at the boundary of peripersonal space.


          This study provides the first evidence that brain motor area participate in the visual determination of what is reachable. We discuss how motor representations may feed the perceptual system with information about possible interactions with nearby objects and thus may contribute to the perception of the boundary of peripersonal space.

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          Most cited references 61

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            Paradigms drawn from cognitive psychology have provided new insight into covert stages of action. These states include not only intending actions that will eventually be executed, but also imagining actions, recognizing tools, learning by observation, or even understanding the behavior of other people. Studies using techniques for mapping brain activity, probing cortical excitability, or measuring the activity of peripheral effectors in normal human subjects and in patients all provide evidence of a subliminal activation of the motor system during these cognitive states. The hypothesis that the motor system is part of a simulation network that is activated under a variety of conditions in relation to action, either self-intended or observed from other individuals, will be developed. The function of this process of simulation would be not only to shape the motor system in anticipation to execution, but also to provide the self with information on the feasibility and the meaning of potential actions. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
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              Corticocortical inhibition in human motor cortex.

              1. In ten normal volunteers, a transcranial magnetic or electric stimulus that was subthreshold for evoking an EMG response in relaxed muscles was used to condition responses evoked by a later, suprathreshold magnetic or electric test shock. In most experiments the test stimulus was given to the lateral part of the motor strip in order to evoke EMG responses in the first dorsal interosseous muscle (FDI). 2. A magnetic conditioning stimulus over the hand area of cortex could suppress responses produced in the relaxed FDI by a suprathreshold magnetic test stimulus at interstimulus intervals of 1-6 ms. At interstimulus intervals of 10 and 15 ms, the test response was facilitated. 3. Using a focal magnetic stimulus we explored the effects of moving the conditioning stimulus to different scalp locations while maintaining the magnetic test coil at one site. If the conditioning coil was moved anterior or posterior to the motor strip there was less suppression of test responses in the FDI. In contrast, stimulation at the vertex could suppress FDI responses by an amount comparable to that seen with stimulation over the hand area. With the positions of the two coils reversed, conditioning stimuli over the hand area suppressed responses evoked in leg muscles by vertex test shocks. 4. The intensity of both conditioning and test shocks influenced the amount of suppression. Small test responses were more readily suppressed than large responses. The best suppression was seen with small conditioning stimuli (0.7-0.9 times motor threshold in relaxed muscle); increasing the intensity to motor threshold or above resulted in less suppression or even facilitation. 5. Two experiments suggested that the suppression was produced by an action on cortical, rather than spinal excitability. First, a magnetic conditioning stimulus over the hand area failed to produce any suppression of responses evoked in active hand muscles by a small (approximately 200 V, 50 microsecond time constant) anodal electric test shock. Second, a vertex conditioning shock had no effect on forearm flexor H reflexes even though responses in the same muscles produced by magnetic cortical test shocks were readily suppressed at appropriate interstimulus intervals. 6. Small anodal electric conditioning stimuli were much less effective in suppressing magnetic test responses than either magnetic or cathodal electric conditioning shocks.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Lab. URECA (EA 1059), Université de Lille–Nord de France, Lille, France
                [2 ]UMR-CNRS 8163 STL, Université de Lille–Nord de France, Lille, France
                [3 ]Département de Neurophysiologie Clinique, Hôpital Roger Salengro, Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire, Lille, France
                Harvard Medical School, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: YC AB BA EH PD. Performed the experiments: YC AB BA EH. Analyzed the data: YC AB BA HD. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: YC AB BA EH PD. Wrote the paper: YC AB HD.

                Role: Editor
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                6 August 2008
                : 3
                : 8
                Coello et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Pages: 12
                Research Article
                Neuroscience/Behavioral Neuroscience
                Neuroscience/Cognitive Neuroscience
                Neuroscience/Experimental Psychology



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