The brain is the central organ in the human body which manages every word uttered, bodily movement made and idea or thought construed. Weighing approximately three pounds, the brain is small when considering its size in proportion to the rest of the human body.
Yet the role this organ plays is an essential one in comparison with the rest of the body's organs. Other organs can be artificially produced or even removed, but technology does not have a way to duplicate the brain, its functions are primary to our very existence.
The brain is comprised of three primary areas, the brain stem, cerebellum and cerebrum. Encased inside the cerebrum are four lobes: frontal, occipital, parietal, and temporal. Situated below the lobes are where the cerebellum and the brain stem are located.
Each of these three primary areas and their components serve specific functions and, if an injury occurs to any of these areas, it impacts a person's various abilities in both physical and cognitive areas.
• Frontal lobe
Located in the front of the brain under the forehead, the frontal lobe houses a person's personality and manages their emotions. Most human behaviors are controlled by this lobe, which also takes part in motor function, problem solving, judgment calls, spontaneity, memory, language, and social and sexual behaviors.
The frontal lobe is divided into two sections, the anterior and the posterior. The anterior controls the higher level thinking, or cognitive functions, and the posterior area of the frontal lobe control movement.
People who have suffered an injury to the frontal lobe will often experience a loss of either short or long term memory, have impulsivity or experience issues with executive functioning skills. Problems with organizational thinking or problem solving often results from a frontal lobe injury.
Aphasia is another common occurrence with injury of the frontal lobe; this impacts a person's ability to express language. The frontal lobe is one of the most common lobes afflicted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
• Occipital lobe
The occipital lobe is housed in the lower back of the brain. Its primary function is visual perceptions. Damage to this lobe can result in loss of vision, hallucinations, or cause other visual impairments such as the ability to see color or accurately see accurate perceptions of objects. People who suffer injuries to this lobe are likely to have visual deficits.
• Parietal lobe
This lobe is located in the upper rear of the brain and controls sensation, perception and sensory input (Centre for Neuroskills). Issues that may emerge with a parietal lobe injury are the ability to name an object, locate words for writing and experience problems with reading and writing. Visual focused attention and difficulties with hand/eye coordination may be present as well.
• Temporal lobe
There are two temporal lobes located at the side of the head above each ear; the temporal lobe is involved with hearing ability, memory acquisition and some visual perceptions (Centre for Neuroskills). Injury to this lobe can impact memory, vision, hearing, and cause aggressive behavior.
Brain Stem and Cerebellum
• Brain stem
The brain stem is located at the base of the brain and connects to the spinal cord. Many neurological functions are housed in the brain stem such as breathing, temperature regulation, heart rate, blood pressure and eye muscles. Injuries occurring to the brain stem may impact bodily functions such as the ability to regulate body temperature, deficits in perceptive vision, swallowing reflexes, blood pressure and proper digestion.
The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain and controls coordination of balance and equilibrium and works with the body's voluntary movements. An injury to this area of the brain may result in dizziness, slurred speech, ability to walk and other bodily voluntary movements.
Each area of the brain has a purpose and if injured, it may affect cognitive or physical abilities in the injured person's daily functions. Brain injury is not an issue to be taken lightly because of the significance of the brain and the important functions it manages.
You can find more information regarding the lobes and functions of the brain at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.