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Thetaburst TMS to the posterior superior temporal sulcus decreases resting-state fMRI connectivity across the face processing network

By Daniel A. Handwerker, Geena Ianni, Benjamin Gutierrez, Vinai Roopchansingh, Javier Gonzalez-Castillo, Gang Chen, Peter A Bandettini, Leslie G. Ungerleider, David Pitcher

Posted 07 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/794578 (published DOI: 10.1162/netn_a_00145)

Humans process faces using a network of face-selective regions distributed across the brain. Neuropsychological patient studies demonstrate that focal damage to nodes in this network can impair face recognition, but such patients are rare. We approximated the effects of damage to the face network in neurologically normal human participants using thetaburst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TBS). Multi-echo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) resting-state data were collected pre- and post-TBS delivery over the face-selective right superior temporal sulcus (rpSTS), or a control site in the right motor cortex. Results showed that TBS delivered over the rpSTS reduced resting-state connectivity across the extended face-processing network. This connectivity reduction was observed not only between the rpSTS and other face-selective areas, but also between non-stimulated face-selective areas across the ventral, medial and lateral brain surfaces (e.g. between the right amygdala and bilateral fusiform face areas and occipital face areas). TBS delivered over the motor cortex did not produce significant changes in resting-state connectivity across the face-processing network. These results demonstrate that, even without task-induced fMRI signal changes, disrupting a single node in a brain network can decrease the functional connectivity between nodes in that network that have not been directly stimulated. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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