Perceptual and Physiological Consequences of Dark Adaptation: A TMS-EEG Study: Brain Topography

A. Zazio, M. Bortoletto, M. Ruzzoli, C. Miniussi, D. Veniero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing literature on sensory deprivation suggests that short-lasting periods of dark adaptation (DA) can cause changes in visual cortex excitability. DA cortical effects have previously been assessed through phosphene perception, i.e., the ability to report visual sensations when a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulse is delivered over the visual cortex. However, phosphenes represent an indirect measure of visual cortical excitability which relies on a subjective report. Here, we aimed at overcoming this limitation by assessing visual cortical excitability by combining subjective (i.e., TMS-induced phosphenes) and objective (i.e., TMS-evoked potentials - TEPs) measurements in a TMS-EEG protocol after 30 min of DA. DA effects were compared to a control condition, entailing 30 min of controlled light exposure. TMS was applied at 11 intensities in order to estimate the psychometric function of phosphene report and explore the relationship between TEPs and TMS intensity. Compared to light adaptation, after DA the slope of the psychometric function was significantly steeper, and the amplitude of a TEP component (P60) was lower, only for high TMS intensities. The perceptual threshold was not affected by DA. These results support the idea that DA leads to a change in the excitability of the visual cortex, accompanied by a behavioral modification of visual perception. Furthermore, this study provides a first valuable description of the relationship between TMS intensity and visual TEPs. © 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-782
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Topogr.
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Dark adaptation
  • Phosphene perception
  • TEPs
  • Visual cortex
  • adult
  • Article
  • cortical excitability
  • dark adaptation
  • electroencephalogram
  • female
  • human
  • human experiment
  • male
  • normal human
  • perception
  • priority journal
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • vision
  • visual cortex
  • visual deprivation
  • young adult
  • electroencephalography
  • evoked response
  • physiology
  • radiation response
  • sensory deprivation
  • Adult
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phosphenes
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex
  • Visual Perception


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