The role of primary motor cortex in manual inhibition of return: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study

Judith Bek*, Merryn D. Constable, Matthew Hilchey, Timothy N. Welsh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Inhibition of return (IOR) is a behavioural phenomenon characterised by longer response times (RTs) to stimuli presented at previously cued versus uncued locations. The neural mechanisms underlying IOR effects are not fully understood. Previous neurophysiological studies have identified a role of frontoparietal areas including posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in the generation of IOR, but the contribution of primary motor cortex (M1) has not been directly tested. The present study investigated the effects of single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over M1 on manual IOR in a key-press task where peripheral (left or right) targets followed a cue at the same or opposite location at different SOAs (100/300/600/1000 ms). In Experiment 1, TMS was applied over right M1 on a randomized 50% of trials. In Experiment 2, active or sham stimulation was provided in separate blocks. In the absence of TMS (non-TMS trials in Experiment 1 and sham trials in Experiment 2), evidence of IOR was observed in RTs at longer SOAs. In both experiments, IOR effects differed between TMS and non-TMS/sham conditions, but the effects of TMS were greater and statistically significant in Experiment 1 where TMS and non-TMS trials were randomly interspersed. The magnitude of motor-evoked potentials was not altered by the cue-target relationship in either experiment. These findings do not support a key role of M1 in the mechanisms of IOR but suggest the need for further research to elucidate the role of the motor system in manual IOR effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114380
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Early online date2 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2023

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