Containing an average of 86 billion neurons, the brain is one of the most complex and inexplicable organs in the human body. In this article, you’ll be learning about the major lobes of the brain and their respective functions.
Fun fact: It’s not true that we use 10% of our brain. No study has ever claimed that. We actually lack the full knowledge of the brain’s capabilities and it keeps us from understanding its true potential.
We’ve yet to uncover a deeper understanding of the brain, and in the future, we might be able to access some hidden brain functions.
So, let’s uncover a bit of what we know today and learn about the lobes of the brain and their functions.
Where “You” Reside – a Break Down of the Lobes of the Brain
Ever wonder what makes you, well…you! Your brain is where your mind and consciousness are thought to be located. Everything you are from your thoughts, memories, feelings, and behaviors are sitting in that magnificent brain of yours.
Before we jump on the topic of the lobes of the brain, we’ll need to first get a grasp on just how much your mind has physical roots in your brain.
The case of Phineas Gage’s brain injury
In 1848, a man named Phineas Gage was working on the railroad, tamping gunpowder into a blasting hole with an iron rod, and accidentally ignited the gunpowder.
The explosion caused the rod to shoot through the left side of his face and through his head, destroying much of his brain’s left frontal lobe.
Amazingly after the accident, he stood up, walked over, and described what had happened – all while being conscious.
The doctor that examined him at the time refused to believe that a rod had shot through his head until Gage coughed out what was described to be a teacupful amount of brain.
Surprisingly after a few months, he was healed up and moving around just fine. However, his friends reported that he was no longer like himself.
The old Gage was mild-mannered and pleasant. After the accident though, he became mean-spirited and vulgar, or as his friends and coworkers described him “no longer Gage.”
Your brain essentially encompasses everything about what makes you a person, from personality to your thinking. Phineas Gage’s story is an example of how much we are yet to understand our brain’s functions and capabilities.
The 4 Major Lobes of the Brain and Their Functions
The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of the brain. It is divided lengthways into two cerebral hemispheres and is connected by a band of nerve fibers (corpus callosum) that allow both sides to communicate with one another.
Each of the hemispheres is divided into four parts: frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe.
Although most of our brain functions rely on multiple regions communicating in conjunction with one another, each lobe of the brain is thought to carry out the bulk of a certain set of functions.
The frontal lobe is where most of your everyday planning and self-management take place, such as emotional regulation, higher planning, and problem-solving. It helps facilitate body movement and memory consolidation.
Moreover, the left frontal lobe is in charge of speech production and word comprehension.
The parietal lobe is responsible for signals of pain perception, sense of touch, and feelings of pressure. The ability to perceive different sensations played a great role in our evolution. Without the feeling of pain, our bodies can’t let us know that we are in a dangerous situation.
Today, we know about congenital insensitivity to pain or CIP, a condition when a person can’t feel any pain which can be quite dangerous for their wellbeing. So, as you can see, the proper function of the parietal lobe is quite important.
The main task of the temporal lobe is to transmit and process signals coming to the primary auditory cortex. In other words, it allows us to make a distinction between different types of sounds or languages. But what does the temporal lobe do that the other lobes of the brain cannot? It allows us to learn, feel, and remember.
The temporal lobe consists of the left temporal lobe and the right temporal lobe. The primary function of the left temporal lobe is to manage sight and sound processing, while the right side controls visual memory and language comprehension.
The primary function of the occipital lobe is to decode the visual information it receives by processing it and sending it back to our eyes. The main vision center is located in the occipital lobe, and it allows us to distinguish the shapes and ranges of the objects we see.
For a moment, acknowledge and honor all that you are instead of all that you are not.— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
These are the main functions of each lobe of the brain. Without any of them, a human being is not able to function adequately in the physical world.
Apart from lobes, we should also give a mention to the sensory cortex. It lies within the parietal lobe and plays an important role in “connecting” all our senses together.
Also located within the frontal lobe is the motor cortex. The primary role of the motor cortex function is to define the way we move. All of these areas work together with our four lobes to help us interact with our physical environment.
The brain, the master of organs, one that encompasses all the things you were, are, and eventually will be. We are still so far from having a deep understanding of this marvel and the complex mysteries that lay within.
Soon the day will come when we’ve learned to tap into the full power of the brain, and only then will we be able to take advantage of its full capacity and potential.