Parietal Lobes 108

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Gordon Johnson:        Doctor, next I’d like to talk about the parietal lobes.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Yes.

Gordon Johnson:        Show us where the parietal lobes are.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Well, again notice the beautiful symmetry of, of the brain: left hemisphere, right hemisphere and the parietal lobes are towards the top and back, bilaterally.

Gordon Johnson:        What’s the function of the parietal lobes?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Well this is that central sulcus structure. In back of the central sulcus is the touch brain. So it’s paying attention to the sensation of touch. It’s also where we have joint position sense and those kinds of things. But it’s also a very, very important area for spatial abilities and it’s a very, very important area for attention, concentration. We also have the left hemisphere tends to be more dedicated to language-based functions and right hemisphere tends to be based more in non-language abilities.

So for example, if you were looking at a beautiful painting and you wanted to describe what you were seeing, you would probably involve some of the left parietal lobe and some of the language networks that the parietal lobe is involved in. But if you were to draw that scene and try to copy what it is that you’re seeing, that would be more of a right parietal function and we tend, tend to see those two kinds of divisions between the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere in individuals who are right-handed.

Gordon Johnson:        Well let’s take and interesting example there.   I think I’m a good photographer.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Yes.

Gordon Johnson:        I have a good perception of images, of light.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Mm hmm.

Gordon Johnson:        I’m a terrible artist.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Mm hmm.

Gordon Johnson:        All right, so would that mean that we would see more development on my left parietal lobes and relatively less on my right or would I be using that part of my right for something else?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Well it’s hard to say based on older-style neuropsychological tests and this is why having someone in the scanner and being able to actually look at what parts of the brain -activate and don’t activate – during certain kinds of tasks could actually help us answer that question.

Gordon Johnson:        And we wouldn’t know whether or not I’m using the right side of my parietal lobe in framing the picture or focusing the camera, doing those manual things that allow me to use my artistic talent in that way?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Yes, it certainly could be that, I mean the challenges with drawing may actually be frontal. Hah hah hah! So because if you’re going to engage motor control then you have to actually move from the frontal cortex to, from parietal cortex to frontal cortex to integrate that movement.




Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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