The mainstays of brain imaging techniques have been positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and event-related potentials (ERPs). These methods all record direct or indirect measures of brain activity and correlate the activity patterns with behavior. But to go beyond the correlations established by these techniques and prove the necessity of an area for a given function, cognitive neuroscientists need to be able to reverse engineer the brain—i.e., to selectively remove components from information processing and assess their impact on the output.
This book is about transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique that emerged during the same period as neuroimaging and has made it possible to reverse engineer the human brain's role in behavioral and cognitive functions. The subject areas that can be studied using TMS run the gamut of cognitive psychology—attention, perception, awareness, eye movements, action selection, memory, plasticity, language, numeracy, and priming. The book presents an overview of historical attempts at magnetic brain stimulation, ethical considerations of the technique's use, basic technical and practical information, the results of numerous TMS studies, and a discussion of the future of TMS in the armamentarium of cognitive neuropsychology.
About the Authors
Vincent Walsh is a Royal Society Research Fellow and Reader in Psychology at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London.
Alvaro Pascual-Leone is Director of Research at the Behavioral Neurology Unit of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.
"Making reversible lesions in the human brain was until recently a secret dream in neuroscientists' minds; examining the effects of local brain stimulation something only neurosurgeons could aspire to. This extraordinary method has opened up a multitude of experimental possibilities that have been rapidly exploited—notably by the authors of this volume. The use of TMS in its various guises with other non-invasive brain recording techniques such as imaging and encephalography promises another great step in the program of grounding the study of human psychology in biological facts."
—Richard Frackowiak, Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London
"This well-written and very accessible text provides a well-grounded exposition of TMS and its value as a tool to study cognitive processes. Walsh and Pascual-Leone not only provide insights into the technique and its physical foundation, they also set their discussion in historical context. Cognitive neuroscientists will find great value in reading this text for its tutorial contributions."
—John Jonides, University of Michigan