Parietal Lobes of the Brain

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Bailey, Regina. "Parietal Lobes of the Brain." ThoughtCo, Sep. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/parietal-lobes-of-the-brain-3865903. Bailey, Regina. (2017, September 17). Parietal Lobes of the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/parietal-lobes-of-the-brain-3865903 Bailey, Regina. "Parietal Lobes of the Brain." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/parietal-lobes-of-the-brain-3865903 (accessed October 22, 2017).
Lobes of the Brain
The lobes of the brain: frontal lobes (blue), the parietal lobes (green), occipital lobes (yellow) and the temporal lobes (purple). MedicalRF.com/Getty Images

The parietal lobes are one of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex. The parietal lobes are positioned behind the frontal lobes and above the temporal lobes. These lobes are important to the processing of sensory information, understanding spatial orientation and body awareness.

Location

Directionally, the parietal lobes are superior to the occipital lobes and posterior to the central sulcus and frontal lobes.

The central sulcus is the large deep groove or indentation that separates the parietal and frontal lobes.

Function

The parietal lobes are involved in a number of important functions in the body. One of the main functions is to receive and process sensory information from all over the body. The somatosensory cortex is found within the parietal lobes and is essential for processing touch sensations. For instance, the somatosensory cortex helps us to identify the location of a touch sensation and to discriminate between sensations such as temperature and pain. Neurons in the parietal lobes receive touch, visual and other sensory information from a part of the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus relays nerve signals and sensory information between the peripheral nervous system and the cerebral cortex. The parietal lobes process the information and help us to identify objects by touch.

The parietal lobes work in concert with other areas of the brain, such as the motor cortex and visual cortex, to perform certain tasks.

Opening a door, combing your hair, and placing your lips and tongue in the proper position to speak all involve the parietal lobes. These lobes are also important for understanding spatial orientation and for proper navigation. Being able to identify the position, location and movement of the body and its parts is an important function of the parietal lobes.

Parietal lobe functions include:

  • Cognition
  • Information Processing
  • Touch Sensation (Pain, Temperature, etc.)
  • Understanding Spatial Orientation
  • Movement Coordination
  • Speech
  • Visual Perception
  • Reading and Writing
  • Mathematical Computation

Damage

Damage or injury to the parietal lobe can cause a number of difficulties. Some of the difficulties as it relates to language include the inability to recall the correct names of everyday items, inability to write or spell, impaired reading, and the inability to position the lips or tongue properly in order to speak. Other problems that may result form damage to the parietal lobes include difficulty in performing goal-directed tasks, difficulty in drawing and performing math calculations, difficulty in identifying objects by touch or distinguishing between different types of touch, inability to distinguish left from right, lack of hand-eye coordination, difficulty in understanding direction, lack of body awareness, difficulty in making exact movements, inability to perform complex tasks in the proper order, difficulty in localizing touch and deficits in attention.​

Certain types of problems are associated with damage caused to either the left or right hemispheres of the cerebral cortex.

Damage to the left parietal lobe typically results in difficulties in understanding language and writing. Damage to the right parietal lobe results in difficulties with understanding spatial orientation and navigation.

Cerebral Cortex Lobes

The cerebral cortex is the thin layer of tissue that covers the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the largest component of the brain and is divided into two hemispheres with each hemisphere being divided into four lobes. Each brain lobe has a specific function. Functions of the cerebral cortex lobes involve everything from interpreting and processing sensory information to decision-making and problem-solving capabilities. In addition to the parietal lobes, the lobes of the brain consist of the frontal lobes, temporal lobes, and occipital lobes. The frontal lobes are involved in reasoning and personality expression.

The temporal lobes assist in organizing sensory input and memory formation. The occipital lobes are involved in visual processing.