The parietal lobe, a potential ally in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease


that The brain is an amazing organ It’s not a mystery. For the Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates, this was the “throne” of intelligence, experience and consciousness, and he may have been right. It is the cradle of thought, reason and language. It’s the puppeteer pulling the strings until we perform simple actions like eating our grandmother’s beloved paella or running to catch the bus. It helps us distinguish some of the acoustic qualities of our environment and, ultimately, allows us to enjoy life.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and some areas of the brain, such as the parietal lobe, experience deterioration in Alzheimer’s disease. This lobe is primarily responsible for processing somatosensory information, that is, it deals with data about touch, movement, and the position of our body in relation to space. As well Processes cognitive and multimedia information (which comes from different sensory modalities).

The parietal lobe is so important that Some researchers suggest that decreased blood flow in this area could serve as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.

Neuroplasticity in vision loss

As a person gets older, the problems that follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant or detecting a smell or taste become more severe. however, The most common type of sensory deficit that occurs with age is vision loss. This is not an obstacle to remember that both visual impairment and blindness are problems that exist at all ages and all over the world.

In visually impaired persons, the parietal lobe does not degenerate, but undergoes remodeling as a result of neuroplastic mechanisms in the brain. These mechanisms are nothing more than the ability of nervous tissue to strengthen its connections and create new ones. It is known that this neural plasticity can arise after injury and as a result of experience.

Neuroplasticity helps us understand why Johann Sebastian Bach was a musician and composer for hours of organ practice. After all, our brain does not remain static, it is not static, but dynamic.

But why does this happen? What is the reason why the parietal lobes of people with visual loss present this nervous display? What motivates you? Well, we must believe that people with low vision need to interact daily with their environment without the aid of their sense of sight. Therefore, they rely more on their sense of touch to recognize objects, they practice reading Braille texts and they can move thanks to the use of a white cane.

All of the above will strengthen its nerve connections in favor of the parietal lobe. Thus, it has been observed that in subjects with visual loss, the parietal connections with the occipital lobe are strengthened, evidence of the so-called neuroplasticity.

The role of the parietal lobe in Alzheimer’s disease is under review

There are investigations linking vision loss with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but they have not been exempt from serious methodological limitations. Here an alternative hypothesis emerges in which the main character, the missing piece in the puzzle, is the parietal lobe.

In our research published in Alzheimer’s Disease Journalwe start from the theory that adaptive changes in the nervous system, and more specifically, in the parietal lobe, can make people with visual functional diversity less susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases involving deterioration of said lobe, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

This hypothesis can mean Advances in understanding both Alzheimer’s disease and the brain changes that follow vision loss. Well, not only is it important to investigate therapeutic therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, but it is also important to understand their pathophysiology. Therefore, it remains in the hands of science to reveal this unknown and tip the balance in favor of or against the proposed hypothesis.


This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original text.


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