Roebuck, H., Bourke, P., & Guo, K. (2014). Role of lateral and feedback connections in primary visual cortex in the processing of spatiotemporal regularity? a TMS study. Neuroscience, 263, 231-239.

Our human visual system exploits spatiotemporal regularity to interpret incoming visual signals. With a dynamic stimulus sequence of four collinear bars (predictors) appearing consecutively toward the fovea, followed by a target bar with varying contrasts, we have previously found that this predictable spatiotemporal stimulus structure enhances target detection performance and its underlying neural process starts in the primary visual cortex (area V1). However, the relative contribution of V1 lateral and feedback connections in the processing of spatiotemporal regularity remains unclear. In this study we measured human contrast detection of a briefly presented foveal target that was embedded in a dynamic collinear predictor-target sequence. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to selectively disrupt V1 horizontal and feedback connections in the processing of predictors. The coil was positioned over a cortical location corresponding to the location of the last predictor prior to target onset. Single-pulse TMS at an intensity of 10% below phosphene thresholdwas delivered at 20 or 90ms after the predictor onset. Our analysis revealed that the delivery of TMS at both time windows equally reduced, but did not abolish, the facilitation effect of the predictors on target detection. Furthermore, if the predictors’ ordination was randomized to suppress V1 lateral connections, the TMS disruption was significantly more evident at 20ms than at 90-ms time window. We suggest that both lateral and feedback connections contribute to the encoding of spatiotemporal regularity in V1. These findings develop understanding of how our visual system exploits spatiotemporal regularity to facilitate the efficiency of visual perception.

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