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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Cerebral Cortex, Intellectual Functions of the Brain, Learning and Memory

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Functions of the Parieto-occipitotemporal Cortex in the Nondominant Hemisphere

When Wernicke’s area in the dominant hemisphere of an adult person is destroyed, the person normally loses almost all intellectual functions associated with language or verbal symbolism.

Functions of the Parieto-occipitotemporal Cortex in the Nondominant Hemisphere

When Wernicke’s area in the dominant hemisphere of an adult person is destroyed, the person normally loses almost all intellectual functions associated with language or verbal symbolism, such as the ability to read, the ability to perform mathematical operations, and even the ability to think through logical problems. Many other types of interpretative capabilities, some of which use the temporal lobe and angular gyrus regions of the opposite hemisphere, are retained.

Psychological studies in patients with damage to the nondominant hemisphere have suggested that this hemisphere may be especially important for under-standing and interpreting music, nonverbal visual experiences (especially visual patterns), spatial rela-tions between the person and their surroundings, the significance of “body language” and intonations of people’s voices, and probably many somatic experi-ences related to use of the limbs and hands. Thus, even though we speak of the “dominant” hemisphere, this is primarily for language-based intellectual functions; the so-called nondominant hemisphere might actually be dominant for some other types of intelligence.


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