The outermost and largest part of the brain, called the cerebrum, is divided into halves called hemispheres. Each hemisphere has four sections, called lobes. These lobes – the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe, and the temporal lobe – each have a different function. Dr. Freeman, can you tell us more about lobe functions?
Absolutely, Dr. Hemstad. The frontal lobes are the largest of the four lobes and deal with reasoning, planning, self-control, some speech and emotion functions, and problem solving. The frontal lobes also play an important part in memory, intelligence, and concentration, and are responsible for executive functions.
There are many executive functions of the brain, such as the ability to plan, set goals, and organize. These functions include being able to determine right from wrong and being able to monitor and change behavior as needed. Executive functions also allow people to adapt to new situations and to override or control reactions when appropriate. The abilities to think abstractly, form concepts, and socialize are often considered executive functions.
The parietal lobes are involved with movement and the sense of touch. They also integrate the signals received from other areas of the brain such as vision, hearing, and memory to make sense of the people, places, and objects around us. The parietal lobes pull all the sensory information together to help determine spatial awareness and navigation.
The occipital lobes are found at the back of the brain. These lobes receive and process signals from the eyes to allow people to understand what they are seeing. The occipital lobes influence how people process colors and shapes.
The temporal lobes are located at about ear level, and are the main memory center of the brain, contributing to both long-term and short-term memories. The temporal lobe is also involved with speech and interpreting sounds. An area on the right side is involved in visual memory and helps people recognize objects and faces. An area on the left side is involved in verbal memory and helps people remember and understand language. The back area of the temporal lobes helps people interpret the emotions and reactions of others.