The role of right inferior parietal cortex in auditory spatial attention: A repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation study

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© 2015 Karhson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Behavioral studies support the concept of an auditory spatial attention gradient by demonstrating that attentional benefits progressively diminish as distance increases from an attended location. Damage to the right inferior parietal cortex can induce a rightward attention bias, which implicates this region in the construction of attention gradients. This study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to define attention-related gradients before and after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the right inferior parietal cortex. Subjects (n = 16) listened to noise bursts at five azimuth locations (left to right: -90°, -45°, 0° midline, +45°, +90°) and responded to stimuli at one target location (-90°, +90°, separate blocks). ERPs as a function of non-target location were examined before (baseline) and after 0.9 Hz rTMS. Results showed that ERP attention gradients were observed in three time windows (frontal 230-340, parietal 400-460, frontal 550-750 ms). Significant transient rTMS effects were seen in the first and third windows. The first window had a voltage decrease at the farthest location when attending to either the left or right side. The third window had on overall increase in positivity, but only when attending to the left side. These findings suggest that rTMS induced a small contraction in spatial attention gradients within the first time window. The asymmetric effect of attended location on gradients in the third time window may relate to neglect of the left hemispace after right parietal injury. Together, these results highlight the role of the right inferior parietal cortex in modulating frontal lobe attention network activity.




Karhson, D. S., Mock, J. R., & Golob, E. J. (2015). The role of right inferior parietal cortex in auditory spatial attention: A repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation study. PLoS ONE, 10(12).

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