Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Curr Biol. 2004 Dec 14;14(23):2130-4

Magnetic stimulation of extrastriate body area impairs visual processing of nonfacial body parts

Functional magnetic resonance imaging indicates that observation of the human body induces a selective activation of a lateral occipitotemporal cortical area called extrastriate body area (EBA). This area is responsive to static and moving images of the human body and parts of it, but it is insensitive to faces and stimulus categories unrelated to the human body. With event-related repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, we tested the possible causal relation between neural activity in EBA and visual processing of body-related, nonfacial stimuli. Facial and noncorporeal stimuli were used as a control. Interference with neural activity in EBA induced a clear impairment, consisting of a significant increase in discriminative reaction time, in the visual processing of body parts. The effect was selective for stimulus type, because it affected responses to nonfacial body stimuli but not to noncorporeal and facial stimuli, and for locus of stimulation, because the effect from the interfering stimulation of EBA was absent during a corresponding stimulation of primary visual cortex. The results provide strong evidence that neural activity in EBA is not only correlated with but also causally involved in the visual processing of the human body and its parts, except the face.

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