Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

J Cogn Neurosci. 2018 Jan 8:1-16. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01227

Transitory Inhibition of the Left Anterior Intraparietal Sulcus Impairs Joint Actions: A Continuous Theta-Burst Stimulation Study

Although temporal coordination is a hallmark of motor interactions, joint action (JA) partners do not simply synchronize; they rather dynamically adapt to each other to achieve a joint goal. We created a novel paradigm to tease apart the processes underlying synchronization and JA and tested the causal contribution of the left anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) in these behaviors. Participants had to synchronize their congruent or incongruent movements with a virtual partner in two conditions: (i) being instructed on what specific action to perform, independently from what action the partner performed (synchronization), and (ii) being instructed to adapt online to the partner's action (JA). Offline noninvasive inhibitory brain stimulation (continuous theta-burst stimulation) over the left aIPS selectively modulated interpersonal synchrony in JA by boosting synchrony during congruent interactions and impairing it during incongruent ones, while leaving performance in the synchronization condition unaffected. These results suggest that the left aIPS plays a causal role in supporting online adaptation to a partner's action goal, whereas it is not necessarily engaged in social situations where the goal of the partner is irrelevant. This indicates that, during JAs, the integration of one's own and the partner's action goal is supported by aIPS.

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