Our brain is a marvelously complex artwork of evolutionary engineering that regulates all our bodily functions. All that we are is stored within its cells.
Fun Fact: Your brain accounts for up to 20 percent of your body’s total haul, with the frontal lobe being larger and more developed in humans than in any other organism.
We need to understand how our minds work so we can work our minds better.— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
Modern-day science has uncovered many interesting things when it comes to the brain. In this article, we’ll learn more about the important role that the frontal lobe plays in our daily lives.
What Is the Main Function of the Frontal Lobe?
All mammalian species have a frontal lobe, though its complexity varies from species to species. Biologists believe it is a relatively recent evolutionary addition.
The lobes of the brain govern different cognitive and biological processes, with the frontal lobe being the last part of the human brain to develop.
It’s located in the front of our skull and is split into two parts– the left frontal cortex and the right frontal cortex. Together, they make up two-thirds of the brain.
The left frontal cortex manages and controls the muscles on the right side of the body, while the right frontal cortex controls the left side of the body.
Functions of the frontal lobe
The frontal lobe is crucial for planning, self-management, and decision-making. It has an array of other functions as well which include:
- Motor skills
Our primary motor cortex controls all voluntary movements, i.e., waving your hand, walking, and running.
- Language and speech
Part of the frontal lobe deals with expressing our thoughts through words. We call this part of the brain Broca’s area.
- The creation and recollection of memories
Several different parts of the brain are responsible for creating and storing memories. But the frontal lobe plays a key role in the creation of long-term memories.
- Formation of our personality
Managing impulse control, memory, inner motivation, and reactions to outside stimuli. It also plays a big role in developing our personality.
- Expressing and reacting to emotion
The frontal lobe enables us to empathize with others as well as express emotion when needed. It is also thought to hold the keys to our emotional intelligence.
- Object comparison
With the help of our frontal lobe, we can analyze and classify different objects allowing us to distinguish them from one another.
- Drive and motivation
What keeps you working on a certain task to completion is mostly contributed to the dopamine-sensitive neurons in the frontal lobe. When your brain produces dopamine, the receptors in the frontal lobe latch on to them giving you the feeling of motivation, drive, and reward.
- Focus and attention
The frontal lobe allows you to focus your attention on specific details in your surrounding.
What Would Happen if the Frontal Lobe Was Damaged?
Frontal lobe damage can cause a number of serious issues. There are several recorded cases that demonstrate the consequences of damaging that area of your brain, with the most famous one being that of Phineas Gage.
The story of Phineas Gage
Phineas Gage was a foreman working on a railroad bed in Cavendish, Vermont in 1848. When he was 25 years old, a tamping iron he was using to pack explosive powder detonated and struck him. The iron penetrated his left cheek and exited the back of his skull – damaging his frontal lobe.
Incredibly, Phineas survived. But he was never the same. Those that knew him recognized the personality change that had taken place. Their once kind and thoughtful friend was now crude and irresponsible.
Injury to that region of the brain showed that it can cause personality changes, among other symptoms and side effects.
The story of Phineas Gage points to the fact that we didn’t know enough about the workings of the brain then, and we are still learning about it to this day. The closest doctors can predict is that damage to the frontal lobe may cause the following:
- Language and speech problems
Problems with speech coherence and language might occur.
- Changes in personality
Unpredictable changes in preferences, character traits, and behavior.
- Inability to focus and a reduced ability to plan
Someone with frontal lobe damage may find it difficult to plan and organize their time. This sort of injury can also distort one’s focus, resulting in attention-related disorders, such as ADHD.
- Reduced or lack of emotional expression
Patients with frontal lobe damage show less empathy and little spontaneous facial expression. They also may suffer from mood fluctuations.
Can you live without your frontal lobe?
In theory, it is possible for you to live without a frontal lobe. But you would be completely paralyzed of your mobility and cognitive abilities.
Interestingly enough, it can also result in a lack of emotions and not allowing you to react accordingly. An example of this was discovered that when emotion was impaired, so was decision-making.
As with the case of Phineas Gage, he managed to live without a part of his frontal lobe. But not without distorting his personality completely.
A better question to ask here is:
Can the frontal lobe heal?
Depending on the nature of the damage, the right healthful diet, exercise, and physical therapy treatment can put the patient on track to begin to regain as much functionality as possible.
Results, of course, vary from patient to patient, as well as how your brain processes and adapts to the situation while learning to work around the injury.
In some cases, the brain can compensate for damage to a particular lobe by rewiring and utilizing its other regions to make up for it.
Occupational, speech, and physical therapy can help dramatically. These treatments prove to be very helpful in the early stages of recovery, as the brain begins to heal.
Jim Kwik, the author of our Superbrain program, believes that our brain is a muscle as well. This means we can train our brains to become stronger, better, and sharper to overcome injury if we are dedicated enough to doing so.
So let’s make sure we keep our frontal lobe safe, strong, and intact.