Spatial and non-spatial functions of the parietal cortex

Jacqueline Gottlieb, Lawrence H. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Although the parietal cortex is traditionally associated with spatial attention and sensorimotor integration, recent evidence also implicates it in higher order cognitive functions. We review relevant results from neuron recording studies showing that inferior parietal neurons integrate information regarding target location with a variety of non-spatial signals. Some of these signals are modulatory and alter a stimulus-evoked response according to the action, category, or reward associated with the stimulus. Other non-spatial inputs act independently, encoding the context or rules of a task even before the presentation of a specific target. Despite the ubiquity of non-spatial information in individual neurons, reversible inactivation of the parietal lobe affects only spatial orienting of attention and gaze, but not non-spatial aspects of performance. This suggests that non-spatial signals contribute to an underlying spatial computation, possibly allowing the brain to determine which targets are worthy of attention or action in a given task context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-740
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


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