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What Is the Difference between the Frontal and Parietal Lobes?

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  • Written By: Sarah Kay Moll
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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The frontal and parietal lobes are two of the four parts to the cerebral cortex of the brain, along with the occipital and temporal lobes. The difference between the frontal and parietal lobes is mainly functional. The frontal lobe focuses on higher cognitive functions while the parietal lobe coordinates sensory information. Motor functions are localized in the frontal lobe, while sensory information is integrated in the parietal lobe.

The frontal and parietal lobes are located next to each other, divided by the central fissure. The frontal lobe lies beneath the forehead and extends to the middle of the head. The parietal lobe is just after the frontal lobe and extends toward the back of the head, where the occipital lobe is located. The lateral sulcus or sylvian fissure divides the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe, which is located behind the ear on either side of the head.

Higher cognitive functions such as planning future actions are one of the functions of the frontal lobe. This area of the brain is also involved in executive functions, such as perceiving consequences for actions, suppressing unacceptable behavior, and distinguishing between good and bad actions. It also plays a role in emotion and memory.

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Both the frontal and parietal lobes contain major cortexes which map out the body. The parietal lobe contains the somatosensory cortex, an area of the brain that receives sensory information from the body. This part of the brain communicates with the motor cortex, which lies in the frontal lobe, to plan and execute motor movements.

Visual and sensory information pass through and are processed in the parietal lobe. This area integrates information from different senses. It is also involved in forming a mental body map or image and locating the body in space.

Damage to these lobes cause different types of dysfunction. Lesions to the frontal lobe can cause speech impairment. They can also cause emotional dissociation, making people less likely to feel emotions when confronted with upsetting stimuli. Another symptom of frontal lobe injury is impulsive or inappropriate behavior. Damage to the parietal lobe can cause sensory impairment or disorientation.

Decreased blood flow or activity in the frontal and parietal lobes can play a role in some types of diseases. In schizophrenia, decreased frontal lobe activity has been observed. In Alzheimer’s disease, the parietal lobe may receive a reduced blood flow.

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