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The cerebral cortex, which is the top layer of cortical tissue of the brain, is divided into two hemispheres, each of which have four lobes. Each lobe has associated functions, though most functions in the brain coordinate information processing in the cerebral cortex with subcortical processing. Below are the individual lobes as well as the functions and possible consequences of damage.
- Frontal lobes – The frontal lobe is comprised of the prefrontal cortex and the motor cortex. While the prefrontal cortex combines information from various parts of the brain to make decisions, conscious thought, and regulate personality and social-emotional behavior. A person who had damage to this particular part of the brain, such as the famous patient Phineas Gage, could expect to experience a disruption of their executive functioning and behavioral regulation .
The motor cortex, located just behind the prefrontal cortex, is where the impulse for voluntary motor movement is initiated and then sent out to other parts of the brain for execution (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). Specific areas of the motor cortex coordinate with body parts and can be visualized on a topographic map of the area (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). A person experiencing damage to the motor cortex might have loss of function or difficulty moving the specific area of the body which correlates to the damaged portion (Gazzaniga et al., 2019).
- The Occipital Lobes – The occipital lobe is located at the back of the cerebral cortex and receives sensory information directly from the retinas (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). This lobe is responsible for object and face recognition, as well as depth and distance perception (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). Information from the occipital lobe is passed along to other parts of the brain for various purposes, such as spatial awareness and coordination (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). Damage to the occipital lobe could lead to visual impairment, and the inability to perform more complex processes that require visual sensory input (Gazzaniga et al., 2019).
- The Parietal Lobes – The parietal lobes are located between the occipital and temporal lobes and help integrate sensory input from other areas of the brain such as touch, pressure, and temperature (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). Spatial information and environmental awareness is also regulated in the parietal lobes, as well as some processing for reading and numbers/mathematical skills (Parietal Lobes, 2021). A person who has sustained damage to the parietal lobe may have difficulty with navigating their surroundings, left-right confusion, impaired senses and function, and loss of writing and numerical skills (Parietal Lobes, 2021).
- Temporal Lobes – The temporal lobes are associated with hearing, memory, emotion, and aspects of language such as learning, comprehension and formation of speech (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). The right side of the lobe primarily functions to recognize and memorize non-verbal information, as well as reading facial expressions. The temporal lobe also has the ability to convert sounds into visual images, which helps with the processing of auditory information (Gazzaniga et al., 2019). A person with damage to their temporal lobe could have difficulty with speech perception and facial recognition, disrupted audio and visual processing,and experience problems with long-term memory (Temporal Lobes, 2021).
García-Molina, A. (2012). Phineas Gage and the enigma of the prefrontal cortex. Neurología (English Edition), 27(6), 370-375. ISSN 2173-5808. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nrleng.2010.03.002.
Gazzaniga, M., Ivry, R., & Mangun, G. (2019). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind (5th ed.). New York : W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: 978-0-393-66784-4. https://www.gcumedia.com/digital-resources/ww-norton/2018/cognitive-neuroscience_the-Biology-of-the-mind_5e.php
Parietal Lobes. (2021). Center for neuro skills. https://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/parietal-lobes/
Temporal Lobes. (2021). Center for neuro skills. https://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/parietal-lobes/