- Transcranial magnetic stimulation-induced 'visual echoes' are generated in early visual cortex
- Neuroscience Letters
- Volume | Issue number
- 484 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the early visual areas can trigger perception of a flash of light, a so-called phosphene. Here we show that a very brief presentation of a stimulus can modulate features of a subsequent TMS-induced phosphene, to a level that participants mistake phosphenes for real stimuli, inducing ‘visual echoes’ of a previously seen stimulus. These ‘echoes’ are modulated by visual context at the moment of magnetic stimulation, showing that they are generated in early visual areas, and that the brain processes these ‘echoes’ as if they are factually presented stimuli. This shows that TMS can re-activate weak visual representations in early visual areas. Based on the pattern of contextual modulation of visual echoes, we theorize that perception of these echoes is not a passive reactivation of residual activity in early visual cortex, but an active interpretation of the combined activity of TMS-induced neural noise and cortical state.
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