Contributions of the PPC to Online Control of Visually Guided Reaching Movements assessed with fMRI-guided TMS
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The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) plays an important role in controlling voluntary movements by continuously integrating sensory information about body state and the environment. We tested which subregions of the PPC contribute to the processing of target- and body-related visual information while reaching for an object, using a reaching paradigm with 2 types of visual perturbation: displacement of the visual target and displacement of the visual feedback about the hand position. Initially, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to localize putative target areas involved in online corrections of movements in response to perturbations. The causal contribution of these areas to online correction was tested in subsequent neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) experiments. Robust TMS effects occurred at distinct anatomical sites along the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) and the anterior part of the supramarginal gyrus for both perturbations. TMS over neighboring sites did not affect online control. Our results support the hypothesis that the aIPS is more generally involved in visually guided control of movements, independent of body effectors and nature of the visual information. Furthermore, they suggest that the human network of PPC subregions controlling goal-directed visuomotor processes extends more inferiorly than previously thought. Our results also point toward a good spatial specificity of the TMS effects.