The Role of the Frontal Eye Fields in Oculomotor Competition: Image-Guided TMS Enhances Contralateral Target Selection

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Abstract

In order to execute a correct eye movement to a target in a search display, a saccade program toward the target element must be activated, while saccade programs toward distracting elements must be inhibited. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the role of the frontal eye fields (FEFs) in oculomotor competition. Functional magnetic resonance imaging-guided single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was administered over either the left FEF, the right FEF, or the vertex (control site) at 3 time intervals after target presentation, while subjects performed an oculomotor capture task. When TMS was applied over the FEF contralateral to the visual field where a target was presented, there was less interference of an ipsilateral distractor compared with FEF stimulation ipsilateral to the target's visual field or TMS over vertex. Furthermore, TMS over the FEFs decreased latencies of saccades to the contralateral visual field, irrespective of whether the saccade was directed to the target or to the distractor. These findings show that single-pulse TMS over the FEFs enhances the selection of a target in the contralateral visual field and decreases saccade latencies to the contralateral visual field.

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