Touching motion: RTMS on the human middle temporal complex interferes with tactile speed perception

Demis Basso, Andrea Pavan, Emiliano Ricciardi, Sabrina Fagioli, Tomaso Vecchi, Carlo Miniussi, Pietro Pietrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain functional and psychophysical studies have clearly demonstrated that visual motion perception relies on the activity of the middle temporal complex (hMT+). However, recent studies have shown that hMT+ seems to be also activated during tactilemotion perception, suggesting that this visual extrastriate area is involved in the processing and integration of motion, irrespective of the sensorial modality. In the present study, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to assess whether hMT+ plays a causal role in tactile motion processing. Blindfolded participants detected changes in the speed of a grid of tactilemoving points with their finger (i.e. tactile modality). The experiment included three different conditions: a control condition with no TMS and two TMS conditions, i.e. hMT+-rTMS and posterior parietal cortex (PPC)-rTMS. Accuracies were significantly impaired during hMT+-rTMS but not in the other two conditions (No-rTMS or PPC-rTMS), moreover, thresholds for detecting speed changes were significantly higher in the hMT+-rTMS with respect to the control TMS conditions. These findings provide stronger evidence that the activity of the hMT+ area is involved in tactile speed processing, which may be consistent with the hypothesis of a supramodal role for that cortical region in motion processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Repetitive TMS
  • Speed detection
  • Tactile
  • Temporal lobe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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