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Stimulation of category-selective brain areas modulates ERP to their preferred categories

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Published copy (DOI)


  • Boaz Sadeh
  • David Pitcher
  • Talia Brandman
  • Ami Eisen
  • Avner Thaler
  • Galit Yovel


Publication details

JournalCurrent biology : CB
DatePublished - 22 Nov 2011
Issue number22
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1894-9
Original languageEnglish


Neural selectivity to specific object categories has been demonstrated in extrastriate cortex with both functional MRI [1-3] and event-related potential (ERP) [4, 5]. Here we tested for a causal relationship between the activation of category-selective areas and ERP to their preferred categories. Electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded while participants observed faces and headless bodies. Concurrently with EEG recording, we delivered two pulses of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the right occipital face area (OFA) or extrastriate body area (EBA) at 60 and 100 ms after stimulus onset. Results showed a clear dissociation between the stimulated site and the stimulus category on ERP modulation: stimulation of the OFA significantly increased the N1 amplitude to faces but not to bodies, whereas stimulation of the EBA significantly increased the N1 amplitude to bodies but not to faces. These findings provide the first evidence for a specific and causal link between activity in category-selective networks and scalp-recorded ERP to their preferred categories. This result also demonstrates that the face and body N1 reflects several nonoverlapping neural sources, rather than changes in face-selective mechanisms alone. Lastly, because early stimulation (60-100 ms) affected selectivity of a later ERP component (150-200 ms), the results could imply a feed-forward connection between occipital and temporal category-selective areas.

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Adult, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Face, Female, Human Body, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Visual Cortex, Visual Perception, Young Adult

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