Top-down interference and cortical responsiveness in face processing: A TMS-EEG study


Neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies have shown the involvement of a fronto-temporo-occipital network in face processing, but the functional relation among these areas remains unclear. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) to explore the local and global cortical excitability at rest and during two different face processing behavioral tasks. Single-pulse TMS was delivered (100 ms after face stimulus onset) over the right medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during a face identity or a face expression matching task, while continuous EEG was recorded using a 60-channel TMS-compatible amplifier. We examined TMS effects on the occipital face-specific ERP component and compared TMS-evoked potentials (TEPs) recorded during task performance and a passive point fixation control task. TMS reduced the P1-N1 component recorded at the occipital electrodes. Moreover, performing face tasks significantly modulated TEPs recorded at the occipital and temporal electrodes within the first 30 ms after right mPFC stimulation, with a specific increase of temporal TEPs in the right hemisphere for the facial expression task. Furthermore, in order to test the site-specificity of the reported effects, TMS was applied over the right premotor cortex (PMC) as a control site using the same experimental paradigm. Results showed that TMS over the right PMC did not affect ERP components in posterior regions during the face tasks and TEP amplitude did not change between task and no task condition, either at fronto-central electrodes near the stimulation or at temporal and occipital electrodes. These findings support the notion that the prefrontal cortex exerts a very early influence over the occipital cortex during face processing tasks and that excitability across right fronto-temporal cortical regions is significantly modulated during explicit facial expression processing.

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.03.020

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@article{Mattavelli2013TopdownIA, title={Top-down interference and cortical responsiveness in face processing: A TMS-EEG study}, author={Giulia Mattavelli and Mario Rosanova and Adenauer G. Casali and Costanza Papagno and Leonor J. Romero Lauro}, journal={NeuroImage}, year={2013}, volume={76}, pages={24-32} }