The left ventral premotor cortex (PMv) is preferentially activated by exemplars of tools, suggestive of category specificity in this region. Here we used state-dependent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the causal role of such category-specific neuronal representations in the encoding of tool words. Priming to a category name (either "Tool" or "Animal") was used with the objective of modulating the initial activation state of this region prior to application of TMS and the presentation of the target stimulus. When the target word was an exemplar of the "Tool" category, the effects of TMS applied over PMv (but not PMd) interacted with priming history by facilitating reaction times on incongruent trials while not affecting congruent trials. This congruency/TMS interaction implies that the "Tool" and "Animal" primes had a differential effect on the initial activation state of the left PMv and implies that this region is one neural locus of category-specific behavioral priming for the "Tool" category. TMS applied over PMv had no behavioral effect when the target stimulus was an exemplar of the "Animal" category, regardless of whether the target word was congruent or incongruent with the prime. That TMS applied over the left PMv interacted with a priming effect that extended from the category name ("Tool") to exemplars of that category suggests that this region contains neuronal representation associated with a specific semantic category. Our results also demonstrate that the state-dependent effects obtained in the combination of visual priming and TMS are useful in the study of higher-level cognitive functions.
- Category specificity
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Ventral premotor cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience