The brain is a complex organ with many layers and components that play their roles, in one way or another, in almost every function performed by the body. To complicate matters, an otherwise uniform-looking region can contain sub-regions responsible for performing vastly different functions. To simplify the endeavor of learning about the brain as a whole, its structures, and functions, it can be beneficial to take a piece-by-piece approach based on separating and grouping parts of the brain.
The Cerebral Cortex
The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that functions to make human beings unique. Distinct human traits, including higher thought, language and human consciousness as well as the ability to think, reason and imagine, all originate in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is what we see when we look at the brain. It is the outermost portion that can be divided into the four lobes of the brain.
The Brain Lobes
The cerebral cortex can be divided into four sections, which are known as Brain lobes. The frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe and temporal lobe have been associated with different functions ranging from reasoning to auditory perception.
The Frontal Lobe is located in the front of the brain. It is very large and have many functions. The frontal lobe is considered to be our emotional control centre. It plays a central role in our personality and how we act. It is also involved in attention skills and controlling movement.
The frontal lobe manage skills known as Executive Functions. These are very important skills we use for things such as solving problems, planning, making decisions and controlling our behaviour. The frontal lobes work like the conductor of an orchestra who keeps all the musicians playing together harmoniously.
The parietal lobe is located in the middle section of the brain, at top of the head and above the ears. It is associated with processing tactile sensory information such as pressure, touch and pain. A portion of the brain, known as the somatosensory cortex, is located in this lobe and is essential to the processing of the body’s senses. It controls the ability to read, write, and understand spatial relationships.
The parietal lobe also tells us where our body is in relation to the objects around us. This allows us to move around without bumping in to things. This function is known as Visuospatial Processing.
The occipital lobe is located at the back portion of the brain and is associated with interpreting visual stimuli and information. It has an important role in vision because it allows us to make sense of information that comes from our eyes. This process is known as Visual Perception.
Damage to this lobe can cause visual problems such as difficulty recognizing objects, an inability to identify colours, and trouble recognizing words.
The temporal lobe is located on the bottom section of the brain, just above the ears. One of its important functions is to help us process and understand sounds such as musical notes and speech. Other functions include managing our emotions and recognising faces.
The hippocampus is also located in the temporal lobe, which is why this portion of the brain is also heavily associated with the formation of memories. Damage to the temporal lobe can lead to problems with memory, speech perception, and language skills.