Dissociating the contributions of human frontal eye fields and posterior parietal cortex to visual search

Neil G. Muggleton, Roger Kalla, Chi Hung Juan, V. Walsh

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21 Scopus citations


Imaging, lesion, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies have implicated a number of regions of the brain in searching for a target defined by a combination of attributes. The necessity of both frontal eye fields (FEF) and posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in task performance has been shown by the application of TMS over these regions. The effects of stimulation over these two areas have, thus far, proved to be remarkably similar and the only dissociation reported being in the timing of their involvement. We tested the hypotheses that 1) FEF contributes to performance in terms of visual target detection (possibly by modulation of activity in extrastriate areas with respect to the target), and 2) PPC is involved in translation of visual information for action. We used a task where the presence (and location) of the target was indicated by an eye movement. Task disruption was seen with FEF TMS (with reduced accuracy on the task) but not with PPC stimulation. When a search task requiring a manual response was presented, disruption with PPC TMS was seen. These results show dissociation of FEF and PPC contributions to visual search performance and that PPC involvement seems to be dependent on the response required by the task, whereas this is not the case for FEF. This supports the idea of FEF involvement in visual processes in a manner that might not depend on the required response, whereas PPC seems to be involved when a manual motor response to a stimulus is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2891-2896
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Conjunction search
  • Voluntary saccades


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