TMS investigations into the task-dependent functional interplay between human posterior parietal and motor cortex

Giacomo Koch, John C. Rothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be used in two different ways to investigate the contribution of cortical areas involved in grasp/reach movements in humans. It can produce "virtual lesions" that interfere with activity in particular cortical areas at specific times during a task, or it can be used in a twin coil design to test the excitability of cortical projections to M1 at different times during a task. The former method has described how cortical structures such as the ventral premotor cortex (PMv), dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) and the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) are important for specific aspects of reaching, grasping and lifting objects. In the latter method, a conditioning stimulus (CS) is first used to activate putative pathways to the motor cortex from, for example, posterior parietal cortex (PPC) or PMd, while a second, test stimulus (TS), delivered over the primary motor cortex a few ms later probes any changes in excitability that are produced by the input. Thus changes in the effectiveness of the conditioning pulse give an indication of how the excitability of the connection changes over time and during a specific task. Here we review studies describing the time course of operation of parallel intracortical circuits and cortico-cortical connections between the PMd, PMv, PPC and M1, thus demonstrating that functional interplay between these areas and the primary motor cortices is not fixed, but can change in a highly task-, condition- and time-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 14 2009


  • Connectivity
  • Parietal
  • Premotor
  • Reaching
  • TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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