5 lobes of the brain (A complete guide)
We may find an almost infinite number of organic structures within each hemisphere that are responsible for carrying out various tasks and functions that affect our actions. A general description can be found in this article for some of the most important sections of our “thinking machine”: the brain’s 5 lobes.
5 lobes of the brain
Each cerebral hemisphere is divided into five lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe and the temporal lobe, four of which have the same name as the bone above them. Deep within the lateral sulcus lies a fifth lobe, the insula or Island of Reil.
What are the basics about the lobes of the brain?
Anatomically, it is very easy to recognize the division that exists between the two hemispheres of the brain, because seen from above a remarkable space keeps them separated.
It is the interhemispheric fissure, which is something like a rectilinear crack that separates the upper and more superficial parts of the brain and defines where one cerebral hemisphere begins and where another ends.
However, beyond this obvious sign thanks to which we can get a very superficial idea about the anatomy of the brain, if what we want to examine is the structure of each of these elements, things get complicated.
Each hemisphere is covered by a layer called the cerebral cortex (which is the most visible part of the brain and seems to be full of wrinkles and furrows), and this cortex can be divided into different sections according to its different functions and locations.
This classification into differentiated areas within each of the cerebral hemispheres shows us the existence of several lobes of the brain. Let’s see how they are.
What are the lobes of the brain?
What we know as lobes of the brain consists of a classification by plots of the cerebral cortex that allows mapping the main areas of nerve activity. These are not radically separate areas from each other, but they are relatively easy to distinguish one from the other if we look at the folds and different fissures of the brain.
These plots are the lobes of the brain, and below you can read their most basic aspects, taking into account that each cerebral hemisphere has the same number, types and distribution of lobes.
When we think about the lobes of the brain, we can make the mistake of imagining a series of separate or differentiated structures. Well, it is important to note that there are no intermediate barriers and that the four large areas that make up the brain lobes always work in harmony, constantly connected and sharing information.
On the other hand, the fact that each brain lobe has a series of its own characteristics does not mean that each structure almost exclusively controls a certain task. Many activities and processes overlap across different brain regions.
Thus, the functioning of one region could not take place effectively without the presence of another. Hence, sometimes, the brain damage caused in a specific area, can be compensated with what other regions can carry out with greater or lesser effectiveness.
Moreover, sometimes even the researchers themselves debate among themselves about the precise point at which one lobe begins and another ends. On the other hand, what we can see almost with the naked eye are the two hemispheres: the right and the left.
Starting from here we can know that each of the four lobes that make up the brain crosses both hemispheres. Hence, neurologists tend to speak more precisely about the left frontal lobe, the right frontal lobe, etc. Let us therefore see the characteristics of each brain lobe.
1. Frontal lobe
Marked in blue in the image.
In humans, it is the largest of the lobes of the brain. It is characterized by its role in the processing of high-level cognitive functions such as planning, coordination, execution and control of behavior. By extension, it also enables goal setting, anticipation, articulation of language, and regulation of emotions.
The frontal lobe is also born with the capacity to take others into consideration (since it counteracts the influence of impulses to satisfy our desires immediately, in favor of long-term goals) and theory of mind, which is our own, and set it up. The willingness to assume something about others’ mental status..
For example, being aware that we know something that another person does not know is possible thanks to the theory of mind.
In short, this is one of the brain lobes with a more prominent role in the roles that we can apply to the intelligence, preparation, and control of complex voluntary sequences of motion more directly.
This portion of the cortex is characteristic of vertebrate animals and is particularly large in mammals, because the most intelligent organisms on the planet are found in this evolutionary community.
Thus, among the various tasks that it can carry out, are the following:
Speech and language production thanks to the Broca area, an exceptional region that allows us to translate thoughts into words.
Likewise, the frontal lobe is characterized above all by its cognitive processes, by those sophisticated executive tasks that allow us to plan, fix our attention, memorize long-term data, understand what we see, regulate emotions, etc.
Regulation of motivation and search for rewards: Most of the brain’s dopamine-sensitive neurons are located in the frontal lobe.
2. Parietal lobe
Marked in yellow in the image.
It is situated between the frontal and occipital lobes and is primarily responsible for the processing of sensory information from all areas of the body, such as touch, temperature stimuli, pain and pressure, which can be related to the recognition of numbers. Thanks to its proximity to the frontal lobe’s planning centers, it also makes movement control possible.
In addition, it receives visual information from the occipital lobe and works to create associations between this type of data and other inputs from other areas.
Its functions are multiple, but if there is something that defines this brain area, it is its role in sensory perception, spatial reasoning, body movement and our orientation.
It is also in this area where the sensory information relative to most of our sensory organs is captured. It is here that the sensation of pain, physical pressure and temperature, etc. are processed and regulated.
Also, thanks to the parietal area we can understand the nature of numbers. Its relationship with mathematical skills is therefore very relevant.
3. Occipital lobe
Marked in pink in the image. In humans, it is the smallest of the four main lobes of the brain and is located at the back of the skull, near the nape of the neck.
It is the first region of the neocortex which is reached by visual information. Therefore, it has a crucial role in the recognition of objects whose light is projected on the retina, although by itself it does not have the ability to create coherent images.
These images are created from the processing of these data in areas of the brain called visual association areas.
The occipital lobe sends information about vision to other lobes of the brain through two different communication channels.
• The first one, which goes to the frontal area of the brain through the ventral area (that is, the one furthest from the upper area of the head), processes information about the “what” of what is seen, it is say, the content of the vision.
• The second channel, which goes to the front through the dorsal area (close to the crown), processes the “how” and “where” of what is seen, that is, aspects of movement and location in a larger context.
4. Temporal lobe
Marked in green in the image.
The temporal lobes of each hemisphere, arranged horizontally and connected to the temples, are located on the sides of the brain.
They acquire information from many other areas and lobes of the brain and their functions are linked to the identification of memory and patterns in sensory data.Therefore, it plays a role in the recognition of faces and voices, but also in the memory of words.
It is very difficult to associate each of these structures with a single specialized feature, as we have seen so far.They all depend on each other, they are all connected and favor that perfect harmony where the temporal lobes also perform essential tasks:
- It helps us to recognize faces.
- They are also related to the articulation of language and the understanding of sounds, voices and music.
- Facilitates balance.
- Participates in emotion control, such as motivation, frustration, anxiety, enjoyment…
The insula is a part of the cortex that is hidden between the rest of the lobes of the brain and, to see it, it is necessary to separate the temporal and parietal lobes from each other. That is why it is often not considered as just another lobe.
It is attached to structures responsible for making the appearance of emotions possible, as it is closely connected to many areas of the limbic system, and it is probably responsible for mediating between these and the cognitive processes that take place in the rest of the lobes of the brain.
Its functions are not known exactly. However, different processes and alterations have been observed in patients suffering from epilepsy and who present different damages in this structure.
It would participate, for example, in the sense of taste, in visceral control and somatoperception and would also be related to our emotional processes as it is also part of the limbic system.
FAQS: 5 lobes of the brain
What are 5 parts of the brain?
- Pituitary gland.
What each lobe of the brain does?
Each side of your brain contains four lobes. The frontal lobe is important for cognitive functions and control of voluntary movement or activity. The parietal lobe processes information about temperature, taste, touch and movement, while the occipital lobe is primarily responsible for vision.
What are the 5 functions of the frontal lobe?
The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior.
What side of the brain controls memory?
Temporal Lobe: side of head above ears situated immediately behind and below the frontal lobes; the temporal lobe controls memory, speech and comprehension.
What are the 6 lobes of the brain?
The cerebrum is divided by a longitudinal fissure into 2 hemispheres, each containing 6 discrete lobes:
We explained how we can find an almost infinite number of organic structures within each hemisphere that are responsible for carrying out various tasks and functions that affect our actions. In this article you could find an overview of some of the most important sections of our “thinking machine”: the 5 lobes of the brain.
If you have any questions or comments let us know!
Colledge, Nicki R.; Walker, Brian R.; Ralston, Stuart H.; Ralston, eds. (2010). Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine (21st ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-7020-3085-7.
Stuss, D.T. & Knight, R.T. (2013), Principles of Frontal Lobe Function. Nueva York: Oxford University Press.
Hall, John (2011). Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology (12th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4160-4574-8.
Netter, F. (2014). Atlas of Human Anatomy Including Student Consult Interactive Ancillaries and Guides (6th ed.). Philadelphia, Penn.: W B Saunders Co.
Van Essen, DC (January 23, 1997). “A tension-based theory of morphogenesis and compact wiring in the central nervous system”. Nature.