Parietal Lobe

Your brain’s parietal lobe is a key part of your understanding of the world around you. It processes your sense of touch and assembles input from your other senses into a form you can use. Your parietal lobe also helps you understand where you are in relation to other things that your senses are picking up around you.


Your parietal lobe is at the upper back of the brain, approximately just beneath the crown of your skull.
The parietal lobe is a major sensory processing hub for your brain. It also combines information from multiple senses into a usable form. In essence, it helps construct the way your brain understands the world around you.

What is the parietal lobe?

Your parietal lobe is one of your brain’s five lobes. This part of your brain helps many different areas work cooperatively. That cooperation is key to many of the abilities you use in your everyday life. It also contains your brain’s ability to interpret sensations from anywhere on or within your body.


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What does the parietal lobe do?

Your brain’s parietal (pronounced “pa-RY-ah-tul”) lobe handles a few different jobs.


Your parietal lobe is a processing center for sensations you can feel with your sense of touch. These include temperature (hot and cold), pressure, vibration and pain.

Self-perception also uses your sense of touch to tell you where parts of your body are without needing to see them (the technical term for this is “proprioception”). A good way to test this is to close your eyes and bring the palm of your hand up to your face. Even with your eyes closed, you can usually tell the approximate position of your hand (and avoid smacking yourself in the face).

Sensory integration

Other brain areas process sensory information they’re responsible for, and then forward what they processed to your parietal lobe. Your parietal lobe takes that information, including the self-perception information mentioned above, and integrates it into a form you can understand. It then sends information to other areas of your brain so you can respond (or not respond) to what you sense.

Learned movements

Your parietal lobe also helps you learn each time you plan and carry out complex, precise movements. A big example of this is writing. That’s why writing gets easier with practice. The same is true of similar activities like doing math by hand.

Location awareness

Your parietal lobe plays a key role in how you understand where things are around you. Knowing if something is on your left or right side, for example, is a function that relies on your parietal lobe.

Your parietal lobe is also an important part of “big picture” perception. It helps you process situations when you perceive multiple objects in a related context. An example of this would be seeing a stove, countertops, sink and refrigerator and understanding that you’re looking at a kitchen.


Where is the parietal lobe located?

Your parietal lobe is underneath the crown of your skull, at the top rear of your head.


How big is the parietal lobe?

Your parietal lobe makes up about 19% of your brain’s cerebral cortex. “Cortex” is the Latin word for tree bark. The cortex is the wrinkly textured outer surface of your brain, with an average thickness of about 2.5 millimeters.

What is the parietal lobe made of?

Your parietal lobe consists of the same specialized cells found throughout your brain. The basic cell types are:

  • Neurons: These are the cells in your brain and nerves that can send or relay signals to other neurons. The signals travel as electricity inside your neurons. Your neurons convert the electrical signals into chemical form and vice versa. The chemical signals are for neuron-to-neuron communication.
  • Glial cells: These are your nervous system’s support cells. They don’t manage signals. Instead, they maintain and support the neurons.


Conditions and Disorders

What are the common conditions and disorders that affect the parietal lobe?

Many conditions and disorders can affect your brain, most of which can affect your parietal lobe. Some of the most common include:

What are some common signs or symptoms of parietal lobe conditions?

Many symptoms can happen with conditions that affect your parietal lobe. However, some symptoms are more likely or more common, and they usually fall into specific categories.

Disruptions in learned abilities

These abilities involve coordination between your eyes and hands. Examples include:

  • Agraphia (inability to write, a more severe form of dysgraphia).
  • Acalculia (inability to do math, a more severe form of dyscalculia).
  • Alexia (inability to read, a more severe form of dyslexia).
  • Difficulty telling apart left from right.
  • Finger agnosia (trouble identifying and telling apart different fingers).

Sense of touch problems

Symptoms can affect your sense of touch in many ways, including what you can feel or how your brain processes that information. Touch-related symptoms include:

  • Disruptions in your ability to feel temperature, pressure, vibration or pain.
  • Trouble recognizing an object with your sense of touch (you can still recognize them in other ways, such as by looking at them). For instance, if you close your eyes and someone places a metal key in your hand, you should be able to move it around in your hands and identify it by touch. People with parietal lobe damage may have trouble with this or may not be able to do it at all.

Perception issues

Your parietal lobe helps with your sense of direction relative to the world around you. A major part of that is how you tell left from right, how you orient yourself and parts of your body using your eyesight, and how you understand sensory input from both sides of your body. Symptoms can include:

  • Confusing left and right sides.
  • Loss of control when shifting your gaze, not related to muscles of your eye (ocular motor apraxia).
  • Trouble seeing how objects fit into a setting, like being able to see individual trees without recognizing that you’re looking at a forest (simultagnosia).
  • Reaching for and missing something while looking at it (optic ataxia).

What are some common tests to check the health of the parietal lobe?

There are many ways healthcare providers can check the health of your parietal lobe. These include diagnostic tests, lab tests, imaging scans and more. Examples include:

What are common treatments for conditions affecting the parietal lobe?

There are many possible treatments for conditions that affect your parietal lobe, and they can vary widely depending on the issue. A healthcare provider is the best person to tell you about the available treatments and which they recommend.


What can I do to take care of my parietal lobe?

You can do many things to maintain the health of your entire brain, including your parietal lobe. Some brain-related conditions are preventable. Others aren’t preventable, but you may be able to reduce your risk of developing them. Some things you can do to maintain your brain health include:

  • Engage your brain. Your brain is like any other part of your body. To keep it healthy, you need to put it to work. Keeping your brain busy is a key way to delay age-related decline in mental abilities, especially your memory.
  • Eat a balanced diet. What you eat affects your circulatory health, so your diet affects how your brain works (a stroke is an example of a condition that happens when circulatory disorders affect your brain). Too much or too little of certain vitamins can also affect your brain.
  • Reach and maintain a weight that’s healthy for you, and find ways to be physically active. Your weight and activity level can prevent or delay conditions that affect your brain, especially circulatory issues like high blood pressure. Your primary care provider can advise you on what weight range is healthy for you and help you find ways to reach and stay in that range. Physical activity also benefits brain health directly, encouraging good circulation and how your brain produces chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which your brain uses for communication.
  • Wear safety equipment as needed. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries can disrupt how your parietal lobe works. Helmets, safety restraints (such as seat belts) and other types of protective gear are essential to preventing serious injuries.
  • Manage your chronic conditions. Many conditions that affect your brain worsen over time. However, treating those conditions can sometimes stop them or delay how long it takes for them to worsen. Examples of conditions like this include Type 2 diabetes, epilepsy and more.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your parietal lobe is a key part of how you understand the world around you. It also processes your sense of touch, and it plays an important role in how you control the movement and positioning of your body. While your parietal lobe is at the top of your brain, it’s not always at the top of your mind or something you think about often. Taking care of the health of your entire brain — including your parietal lobe — can make a big difference in your life. That way, you can take in the world around you and prioritize the parts of your life that you value most.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 01/08/2023.

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