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Previous studies have implicated the human parietal lobes in the on-line guidance of action. However, no study to date has examined at what stage in the on-line adjustment process do the parietal lobes play their most critical role. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was applied over the left intraparietal sulcus as participants reached to grasp a small or large illuminated cylinder. On some trials, the illumination could suddenly switch from the small to large cylinder, or vice-versa. Small-Large switches were associated with relatively early grip aperture adjustments, whereas Large-Small switches were associated with relatively late grip aperture adjustments. When rTMS was applied early in the movement, it disrupted on-line adjustments to Small-Large target switches, but not to Large-Small switches. Conversely, when rTMS was applied late in the movement, it disrupted adjustments to Large-Small target switches but not to Small-Large switches. The timing of the disruption by rTMS appeared linked to the initiation of the adjustment. It was concluded that the left parietal lobe plays a critical role in initiating an on-line adjustment to a change in target size, but not in executing that adjustment. The implications of these results for current views of on-line control are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





124 - 136


Adaptation, Physiological, Electric Stimulation, Hand Strength, Humans, Magnetics, Models, Psychological, Parietal Lobe, Psychomotor Performance, Reaction Time, Size Perception, Time Factors