THETA-rhythm makes the world go round: dissociative effects of TMS theta versus alpha entrainment of right pTPJ on embodied perspective transformations

Gerard Gooding-Williams, Hongfang Wang, Klaus Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Being able to imagine another person's experience and perspective of the world is a crucial human ability and recent reports suggest that humans "embody" another's viewpoint by mentally rotating their own body representation into the other's orientation. Our recent Magnetoencephalography (MEG) data further confirmed this notion of embodied perspective transformations and pinpointed the right posterior temporo-parietal junction (pTPJ) as the crucial hub in a distributed network oscillating at theta frequency (3-7 Hz). In a subsequent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) experiment we interfered with right pTPJ processing and observed a modulation of the embodied aspects of perspective transformations. While these results corroborated the role of right pTPJ, the notion of theta oscillations being the crucial neural code remained a correlational observation based on our MEG data. In the current study we therefore set out to confirm the importance of theta oscillations directly by means of TMS entrainment. We compared entrainment of right pTPJ at 6 Hz vs. 10 Hz and confirmed that only 6 Hz entrainment facilitated embodied perspective transformations (at 160° angular disparity) while 10 Hz slowed it down. The reverse was true at low angular disparity (60° between egocentric and target perspective) where a perspective transformation was not strictly necessary. Our results further corroborate right pTPJ involvement in embodied perspective transformations and highlight theta oscillations as a crucial neural code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561–564
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number5
Early online date3 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

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  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • rhythmic entrainment
  • tehta oscillations
  • temporoparietal junction
  • perspective takin
  • embodiment


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