Parietal Lobe

Last update: October 2, 2022
By BrainMatters

The parietal lobe is located between the occipital and frontal lobes, and above the temporal lobe. The parietal lobe is separated from the frontal lobe by the central sulcus, and from the temporal lobe by the sylvian fissure.

The main role of this part of the brain is to integrate sensory information, for example, to think spatially. This part of the brain includes the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex. Also located here are areas of the dorsal pathway of visual information processing. By combining somatosensory and visual information, the area can help visualize body position.

The posterior part of the parietal lobe (PPC) is important for controlling movements of the arm, hand and eyes. In this way, the area is involved, among other things, in picking up an object that you see lying on the table. To perform these actions you need visual information, otherwise you might grab next to or in front of the object.

The PPC can also be further divided into four pieces: lateral, ventral, medial and anterior.

  • The lateral part of the PPC contains a map of all areas of the visual field. This information is used to control eye movements. When you see a relevant stimulus, you move your eyes toward it to better study it.
  • The ventral part of the PPC receives information from the different senses (visual, auditory, somatosensory and from the balance organ).
  • The medial part of the PPC has neurons that provide coding for the location of a movement. In order to properly execute a movement and grab an object from the table, you need to know exactly where on the table the object is, and therefore where the movement should go.
  • The anterior part of the PPC processes information about the shape, size and orientation of objects. This information is then used to control the fine movements of the hand. This makes the distance between your fingers precisely large enough to pick up the object.

In addition to being divided into the above areas, there is also a difference between the parietal lobe in the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. On the left side, the area is mainly involved in language and math. On the other side of the brain, the area is involved in understanding maps and spatial relationships.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)
Image: Marcel Loeffen

This lobe is discussed in the following articles on brain matters:
A first encounter with the brain

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