Insights from neuropsychology: pinpointing the role of the posterior parietal cortex in episodic and working memory
AuthorBerryhill, Marian E.
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The role of posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in various forms of memory is a current topic of interest in the broader field of cognitive neuroscience. This large cortical region has been linked with a wide range of mnemonic functions affecting each stage of memory processing: encoding, maintenance and retrieval. Yet, the precise role of the PPC in memory remains mysterious and controversial. Progress in understanding PPC function will require researchers to incorporate findings in a convergent manner from multiple experimental techniques rather than emphasizing a particular type of data. To facilitate this process, here, we review findings from the human neuropsychological research and examine the consequences to memory following PPC damage. Recent patient-based research findings have investigated two typically disconnected fields: working memory and episodic memory. The findings from patient participants with unilateral and bilateral PPC lesions performing diverse experimental paradigms are summarized. These findings are then related to findings from other techniques including neurostimulation (TMS and tDCS) and the influential and more abundant functional neuroimaging literature. We then review the strengths and weaknesses of hypotheses proposed to account for PPC function in these forms of memory. Finally, we address what missing evidence is needed to clarify the role(s) of the PPC in memory.
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