The Parietal Lobe 

The parietal lobe is vital for sensory perception and integration, including the management of taste, hearing, sight, touch, and smell. It is located behind the frontal lobes, just above the temporal lobe. The front half of our parietal lobe receives information from our body’s senses such as pain, temperature, touch, taste, pressure and serve functional purposes. For example, feeling a rock in your shoe that causes you pain would allow you to remove your shoe to see what is causing your irritation. The parietal lobe also allows you to understand the location of where you felt being touched, also known as tactile localization. Other examples of receiving information from our body’s senses include being able to feel when you burn yourself on a stove (temperature), noticing when a bug gently lands on you (touch), or being pushed (pressure). These functions are important for our survival. Therefore, awareness of these senses are vital.  

The back portions of our parietal lobe is responsible for areas such as sustained attention, spatial awareness, visual memory skills, and our mathematical and reasoning skills. Spatial awareness, also called spatial orientation or body awareness, is critical for being able to interact and move through our environment successfully. It is being aware of where your body is in space. This is important to be able to coordinate your movements such as bringing a spoon to your mouth. Examples include, walking, running, or dancing to a song without falling or bumping into others. It would also allow you to replicate a yoga pose you are learning. It also helps you understand where objects are in relationships to each other. For example, understanding that your coffee is next to your laptop or that your dog is right behind you. Additionally, the parietal lobe also allows you to view the world in three-dimensions, also known as having depth perception. This means that you are able to perceive an object’s shape, size, and it’s distance from you. Therefore, if you were driving, you would be able to tell the distance between yourself and the car in front of you so that you are able to maintain a safe distance. These skills are important to navigate through your everyday life and are essential for our safety.   

Spatial awareness also allows you to understand directional terms (e.g., above, below, top, bottom, under, left, and right). This would allow you to put a book away if you were asked to put it on the top shelf of a bookcase. By understanding where you are in comparison to your surroundings, you are able to navigate through your environment and would understand how to get from one location to another by looking at a map. Spatial awareness is also a foundational skill for important activities such as handwriting, mathematics, and activities that require us to move our bodies, such as playing sports. 

The parietal lobe allows you to understand what you are seeing but also remembering these images when they are not in our sight. Additionally, it allows us to understand and give meanings to symbols such as numbers, letters, signs, or objects. Our mathematical abilities also come from the parietal lobe such as understanding quantities (e.g., small versus large), counting, sorting numbers or items, and mathematical operations (e.g., addition and subtraction). 

Impairments Common with Parietal Lobe Damage: 

Impairment  Strategies 
Contralateral neglect  

(other names: hemispatial neglect, unilateral neglect, and spatial neglect) 

  • Deficits in attention to one side of the visual field, opposite to where the injury took place in the brain. This causes individuals to neglect one side of the body or items, usually on their left side. 
  • Using the Lighthouse technique, a technique used to scan your eyes like a lighthouse would from left the left to right side 
  • Keeping items on the affected side (right side) to encourage scanning for items 
  • Using anchors, such as bright targets. For example, if reading, drawing a red line of the left side of the paper to encourage scanning back to the left side 
  • Completing tasks in front of mirror to help correct body movements 
  • Engaging in activities that require both sides of the body 
  • Engage in self range of motion exercises to decrease possibility of contractures 
Loss of Temperature Sensation 
  • Use unaffected hand to check temperatures such as the shower before getting in 
  • Permanently setting your water heater to a safe temperature  
  • Looking for clues such as steam  
Loss of Sense of Touch 
  • Place your body weight on affected side as much as possible to help regain function 
  • Lying your arm out on table during activities 
  • Shifting your weight on your affected side while sitting 
  • Feet place firmly on floor 
  • Using affected limb as much as possible to help with task to provide input 
  • Examples include placing jar against affected hand to help stabilize while your other hand helps open it 
Mathematical abilities 
  • Using a calculator 
  • Phone apps can provide basic or more complex math functions such as fractions 
Ability to express oneself through writing 
  • Using word processors (e.g., computers) as an alternative to writing 
  • Voice recording lectures   
Balint’s Syndrome: a rare disorder that results in difficulties voluntarily moving your eyes, accurately reaching for an item you are viewing, or integrating all aspects of a picture or scene. 

 

  • Move your head towards object to compensate for loss of eye movement 
  • Listening to audiobooks as an alternative to a book or other forms of audio  
  • Overshoot for items to scoop them back to you if having difficulties judging the item’s distance 
Difficulties judging distances (depth perception) 
  • Using bright tape on stairs to know where to step or doorways 
  • Helpful to place on the edges of bathtubs or sinks to stand out 
  • High contrast colors in your environment such as bathrooms to make items stand out  
  • Overshoot for items to scoop them back to you if having difficulties judging the item’s distance 
Difficulties with Body Coordination 
  • Using visual pictures to sequence through steps such as putting on a shirt 
  • Using dycem to help items such as plates and cups not slip 
  • Performing activity in their usual environment 
  • Limit distractions 
  • Allow individuals to make mistakes to learn 
Difficulties with Visual Attention 
  • Limiting visual distractions background noise in the environment 
  • Taking breaks often to help with attention span 

 

References: 

About Brain Injury: A Guide to Brain Anatomy. Brain Injury Minnesota. 

 

Flint Rehab. 2020. Parietal Lobe Damage: Understanding Symptoms and Treatments. 

https://www.flintrehab.com/parietal-lobe-damage/  

 

Kalat, J. W. (2017). Biological Psychology. Cengage. 

 

Arsalidou, M., Pascual, L., Pawliw-Levac, M., & Sadeghi, M. (2017). Brain areas associated with numbers and calculations in children: Meta-analyses of fMRI studies. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 30, 239–250. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2017.08.002 

 

Altabakhi, I.W., & Liang, J.W. (2019) Gerstmann syndrome. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519528/ 

 

 

NeuroPraxis is a Brain Injury Rehab Program for the Home and Community for Los Angeles, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Bakersfield, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, Tulare, and Ventura.