Authors
Michał Klincewicz
Tilburg University
Kristian Sandberg
University of Aarhus
Abstract
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is used to make inferences about relationships between brain areas and their functions because, in contrast to neuroimaging tools, it modulates neuronal activity. The central aim of this article is to critically evaluate to what extent it is possible to draw causal inferences from repetitive TMS data. To that end, we describe the logical limitations of inferences based on rTMS experiments. The presented analysis suggests that rTMS alone does not provide the sort of premises that are sufficient to warrant strong inferences about the direct causal properties of targeted brain structures. Overcoming these limitations demands a close look at the designs of rTMS studies, especially the methodological and theoretical conditions which are necessary for the functional decomposition of the relations between brain areas and cognitive functions. The main points of this article are that TMS-based inferences are limited in that stimulation-related causal effects are not equivalent to structure-related causal effects due to TMS side effects, the electric field distribution, and the sensitivity of neuroimaging and behavioral methods in detecting structure-related effects and disentangling them from confounds. Moreover, the postulated causal effects can be based on indirect effects. A few suggestions on how to manage some of these limitations are presented. We discuss the benefits of combining rTMS with neuroimaging in experimental reasoning and we address the restrictions and requirements of rTMS control conditions. The use of neuroimaging and control conditions allows stronger inferences to be gained, but the strength of the inferences that can be drawn depends on the individual experiment’s designs. Moreover, in some cases, TMS might not be an appropriate method of answering causality-related questions or the hypotheses have to account for the limitations of this technique. We hope this summary and formalization of the reasoning behind rTMS research can be of use not only for scientists and clinicians who intend to interpret rTMS results causally but also for philosophers interested in causal inferences based on brain stimulation research.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2020.586448
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):201-202.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Studies of Face Processing.David Pitcher, Vincent Walsh & Bradley Duchaine - 2011 - In Andy Calder, Gillian Rhodes, Mark Johnson & Jim Haxby (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Face Perception. Oxford University Press. pp. 367.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-01-03

Total views
137 ( #85,172 of 2,505,786 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
27 ( #33,293 of 2,505,786 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes