Consecutive TMS-fMRI reveals an inverse relationship in BOLD signal.
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The human visual system is capable of recognizing an infinite number of scenes containing an abundance of rich visual information. There are several cortical regions associated with the representation of a scene, including those specialized for object processing (the lateral occipital area [LO]) and for the spatial layout of scenes (the parahippocampal place area). Although behavioral studies have demonstrated that these image categories (scenes and objects) exert an influence on each other such that scene context can facilitate object identification or that scene categorization can be impaired by the presence of a salient object, little is known about the apparent cortical interactions involved in building the conscious representation of a complete scene. It has been shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the left LO disrupts object categorization but facilitates scene categorization. Here, we show that this effect is also reflected by changes in the BOLD signal such that TMS to the left LO decreases BOLD signal at the stimulation site (LO) while viewing objects and increases BOLD signal in the left PPA when viewing scenes. This suggests that these regions, although likely not on a strict hierarchy of bottom-up coding, share functional communication likely in the form of inhibitory connections.