Brain Structure and Function


Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes are involved with behavior output (including cognitive and social behaviors, as well as movement). This brain region is often affected by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), particularly those caused by acceleration-deceleration forces that occur in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).

Functions associated with the frontal lobes

  • Inhibition
  • Spontaneity, Initiating behaviors
  • Self-regulation of behavior
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Attention and Working memory
  • Executive functioning (e.g., multitasking, organizing)
  • Movement (including speech movements, facial expressions)

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes include the primary auditory cortex as well as association areas involved in the comprehension and production of spoken language. Regions of the temporal lobes, along with the limbic system (which includes the hippocampus), are also involved in learning and memory. Injury to the temporal lobes is also common with TBI.

Functions associated with the temporal lobes

Auditory processing The ability to focus on one sound among many (e.g., one voice among many at a party)
Comprehension of spoken language
Language production (including fluency and word-finding)
Verbal memory
Visual memory

Occipital Lobes

The occipital lobes are the location of the primary visual cortex and the visual association areas. Injury or lesions to the primary visual cortex cause vision impairments such as blindness or blind spots in visual fields. Damage to the association area can cause difficulties including visual distortions (aka "agnosias") and visual inattention.

Functions associated with the occipital lobes

  • Visual recognition
  • Visual attention
  • Spatial analysis

The Parietal Lobes

The posterior association cortex is located within the parietal lobes. Within this region, information from other cortical areas is integrated to form the basis of complex behaviors, including all behavior involving the senses (e.g., vision, touch, body awareness, spatial orientation).

Functions associated with the parietal lobes

  • Language comprehension
  • Constructional ability
  • Body positioning and movement
  • Sensory perception (e.g., touch)
  • Sensory neglect/Inattention
  • Right-left differentiation
  • Self-awareness/Insight (e.g., regarding cognitive limitations)
  • Arithmetic