Continuous theta-burst stimulation of the right superior temporal gyrus impairs self-motion perception

A. A. Tarnutzer, A. G. Lasker, D. S. Zee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Sensory input from the semicircular canals (SCC) and otolith organs is centrally combined with signals from other sensory modalities to continuously update the internal estimate of self-motion. Constant velocity vertical on-axis rotation leads to decay of the nystagmus response from the horizontal SCC and of perceived angular velocity (PAV), and when the rotation stops, a similar oppositely directed post-rotatory response occurs. Case reports and electrical stimulation studies suggest an involvement of the temporo-peri-Sylvian vestibular cortex in generating the PAV. Here, we transiently inhibited the right superior temporal gyrus (STG) by use of continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) and predicted an accelerated decay of PAV compared to controls (n = 5 control session first, n = 1 cTBS session first). Constant velocity (100 /s) vertical on-axis rotations were applied over 75 s before (1 block) and after (3 blocks) cTBS over the right STG in six subjects. Breaks between the rotations (75 s) were initiated by abrupt stops. By use of a rotating potentiometer, subjects indicated the PAV during and after the chair rotations. Simultaneously eye positions were recorded using a scleral search coil. One subject was excluded for per-rotary analysis. Early after cTBS, the post-rotary PAV decay time constant (DTC) was significantly (9.4 ± 5.7 vs. 13.6 ± 5.9 s; p = 0.049) reduced (no directionality to this effect observed). Overall, post-rotary PAV showed a trend toward shortened DTC compared to the control trials (p = 0.086) in the first 25 min after cTBS, while per-rotary PAV was not significantly changed. Per-rotary and post-rotary aVOR DTC were not significantly changed after cTBS (p > 0.05). These findings support the hypothesis that the right STG is involved in mediating self-motion perception and can be modulated by cTBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Angular vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • Eye movements
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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