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J Neurosci. 2007 Dec 26;27(52):14415-23.

Parietal lobe and episodic memory: bilateral damage causes impaired free recall of autobiographical memory.

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Does the parietal lobe have a critical role in memory? The neuroimaging literature indicates that it has an important role, especially in episodic memory. However, the neuropsychological literature suggests that its role is more limited to attentional, spatial, or imagery aspects of memory. Here, we present data to adjudicate this disagreement. Two patients with bilateral parietal lobe damage received detailed assessments of their autobiographical memories. The results show that although both patients easily recalled various memories, their freely recalled memories were relatively impoverished, lacking in detail. This deficit was ubiquitous, and not limited to spatial or perceptual aspects of memory. The memory deficit disappeared when memory was specifically probed by asking pointed questions. Additional tests show that it is unlikely that their free recall deficit can be explained by general mental imagery problems. In sum, the parietal lobe appears to have a critical role in recollection aspects of episodic memory.

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