The role of the right temporoparietal junction in intersensory conflict: detection or resolution?
The right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) is a polysensory cortical area that plays a key role in perception and awareness. Neuroimaging evidence shows activation of rTPJ in intersensory and sensorimotor conflict situations, but it remains unclear whether this activity reflects detection or resolution of such conflicts. To address this question, we manipulated the relationship between touch and vision using the so-called mirror-box illusion. Participants' hands lay on either side of a mirror, which occluded their left hand and reflected their right hand, but created the illusion that they were looking directly at their left hand. The experimenter simultaneously touched either the middle (D3) or the ring finger (D4) of each hand. Participants judged, which finger was touched on their occluded left hand. The visual stimulus corresponding to the touch on the right hand was therefore either congruent (same finger as touch) or incongruent (different finger from touch) with the task-relevant touch on the left hand. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was delivered to the rTPJ immediately after touch. Accuracy in localizing the left touch was worse for D4 than for D3, particularly when visual stimulation was incongruent. However, following TMS, accuracy improved selectively for D4 in incongruent trials, suggesting that the effects of the conflicting visual information were reduced. These findings suggest a role of rTPJ in detecting, rather than resolving, intersensory conflict.