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What Is the Temporoparietal Junction?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The temporoparietal junction is the part of the brain where the parietal and temporal lobes meet, at the back of the Syvian fissure, a major structure in the brain. A number of important cognitive processes take place at this location, while plays a key role in self perception and self processing by integrating data from multiple parts of the brain. People with lesions in this area can experience abnormalities in the way they perceive their position in space as well as their own emotions and those of others. These symptoms can provide important information about the specific nature of brain lesions.

One feature of the temporoparietal function is the ability to orient the body in space and to feel situated within the body. This allows people to coordinate when they need to interact with objects around them. When this area of the brain does not function right, people can have dissociative experiences where they do not feel connected with their bodies or have difficulty navigating spatial environments. In some cases, this can lead to an out of body experience, where a patient feels completely disconnected from the body.

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This part of the brain also plays a role in emotional processing. People use the connections at the temporoparietal junction to understand their own emotions, and this structure plays a role in moral judgments as well. Ethical and moral decisions can rely on information from this region. The temporoparietal junction also allows people to discern and process the emotions of others, attributing emotions to specific events or information known about other people.

Errors in emotional processing can arise when patients have lesions in the temporoparietal junction. It is possible to induce such errors with electromagnetic stimulation of the brain, illustrating the role this structure plays in moral decisions. Researchers can work with healthy patients, induce temporary changes in their brains, and show which pathways are involved in unhealthy patients. This research can be valuable for activities like assessing brain damage, locating brain lesions, and working with patients who have brain injuries.

A wide range of cognitive processes rely on the temporoparietal junction. Self processing is a key part of social, psychological, and physical awareness. Instability in this area of the brain can cause people to behave erratically, and may lead to outbursts of behavior. Changes in the way someone processes events can indicate an underlying problem with the brain, and may be cause to recommend that someone visit a neurologist for an evaluation.

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