Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Lateralised Thinking

Insight into the functions of the brain's inferior parietal lobe in coordinating mental operations

07 May 2021

Lateralised Thinking

While different brain areas are responsible for processing different things, like what we see or feel, they don’t operate independently. The complex cognitive processes that go on in our heads rely on brain regions being interconnected. The inferior parietal lobe (IPL, outlined here in black) is where many such networks converge and plays a crucial role in both low-level processes like attention and high-level processes like emotion and language. By asking volunteers to perform a series of low and high-level tasks while in an MRI scanner, a team of scientists were able to show increases in brain activity (in red-orange) in the left and right side of the IPL depending on whether it was being used in an attention task (top) or to process language (bottom). This shows us how each side of the IPL has specialised roles, and that they work together to coordinate our complex mental capacities.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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