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Vision, Central

Plasticity revealed by transcranial magnetic stimulation of early visual cortex

Corthout, Erik1,4; Uttl, Bob2; Walsh, Vincent1; Hallet, Mark3; Cowey, Alan1

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We applied single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the occipital pole of healthy subjects while they performed a forced-choice visual letter-identification task. We found three separate periods when TMS suppressed performance; the first period is best explained by TMS-induced blinking whereas the last two periods are best explained by TMS-induced disruption of letter-processing in the early visual cortex. Unexpectedly, we also found that TMS-induced sup-pression progressively disappeared during three weeks of repeated TMS experiments. However, it was only suppression during the last two periods that disappeared; suppression during the first period remained undiminished. When subjects were then presented with dimmer letters, suppression reappeared. The most likely explanation is a practice-induced increase in neuronal activity in the early visual cortex.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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