A cortical substrate for the long-term memory of saccadic eye movements calibration

Publication date: 1 October 2018
Source:NeuroImage, Volume 179
Author(s): Denis Pélisson, Ouazna Habchi, Muriel T.N. Panouillères, Charles Hernoux, Alessandro Farnè
How movements are continuously adapted to physiological and environmental changes is a fundamental question in systems neuroscience. While many studies have elucidated the mechanisms which underlie short-term sensorimotor adaptation (∼10–30 min), how these motor memories are maintained over longer-term (>3–5 days) -and thanks to which neural systems-is virtually unknown. Here, we examine in healthy human participants whether the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) is causally involved in the induction and/or the retention of saccadic eye movements’ adaptation. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (spTMS) was applied while subjects performed a ∼15min size-decrease adaptation task of leftward reactive saccades. A TMS pulse was delivered over the TPJ in the right hemisphere (rTPJ) in each trial either 30, 60, 90 or 120 msec (in 4 separate adaptation sessions) after the saccade onset. In two control groups of subjects, the same adaptation procedure was achieved either alone (No-TMS) or combined with spTMS applied over the vertex (SHAM-TMS). While the timing of spTMS over the rTPJ did not significantly affect the speed and immediate after-effect of adaptation, we found that the amount of adaptation retention measured 10 days later was markedly larger (42%) than in both the No-TMS (21%) and the SHAM-TMS (11%) control groups. These results demonstrate for the first time that the cerebral cortex is causally involved in maintaining long-term oculomotor memories.