The Brain’s Frontal Lobe

Brad Nakase, Attorney

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The frontal lobe is a region of the brain that can be found near the front section of the cerebrum. This is located just behind where the forehead is and underneath the frontal bones of your skull. It is responsible for a wide array of more advanced cognitive functions.

The frontal lobe is known for making us human as it plays a role in most of our primary functions. These functions include anything from movement to intelligence. It also ad in being able to anticipate what consequences we will face due to our actions and assists in planning actions that will be taken in the future. This region of the brain is the newest region in evolutionary terms which makes it much more susceptible to damage or harm.

Where can you Find the Frontal Lobe?

The brain can be divvied up into four primary regions known as the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. The cerebrum, as stated prior, is one of the last regions to become developed and is in charge of a lot of primary functions in the brain and body. These functions can include the ability to think consciously, have morality, process memories, and learn using your memory.

The frontal lobe got its name because it can be found at the front of the cerebrum. It is located just behind where the forehead is and just below the skull bones. It sits on top of the temporal lobe and in front of the parietal love. It is separated from the occipital lobe, though the two are still connected through the limbic system.

The thing that separates the frontal lobe from the parietal lobe is known at the lateral sulcus.

What is the Function of the Frontal Lobe?

 The frontal lobe is the last lobe of the brain to reach maturity. Rather, it continues to grow, create, and prune its neural connection into your twenties. Because of this, any brain damage that occurs to the frontal lobe early in life will make a larger impact because of how vulnerable this part of the brain is.

The frontal lobe is known to function with a lot of ‘higher’ cognitive roles. It can be shown through mammals the cognitive functions the frontal lobe controls because, in more social mammals, the frontal lobe is much more developed. This goes to show that the brain is responsible for responses to social interactions. Along with this, social interactions may also play a large role in the gathering of intelligence. Because of this, humans have a larger frontal lobe than any other mammal.

Some of the primary functions of the frontal lobe include:

  • Voluntary movement coordination- walking, talking, reaching, etc.
  • Home to the primary motor cortex
  • Future consequences- can determine what the consequences may be for an action
  • Differentiating between two people or objects
  • Long-term memories- the forming and retaining of these memories, especially those with an emotional connection
  • Linguistic purposes- speaking and understanding language
  • Emotional understanding- expressing emotion, understanding other’s emotions, and formulating empathy
  • Personality development- due to memory, emotion, and impulse
  • Reward and motivation- dopamine plays a large role in the frontal lobe thus contributing to the feelings of motivation and reward for actions
  • Attention span- regulating attention (selective attention)

What Makes Up the Frontal Lobe?

 The frontal lobe, though it is one region in and of itself, is divvied up into four structures, each of equal importance. These four regions include:

  1. Medial Frontal Lobe: This region contains a part of the limbic system known as the cingulate gyrus. Along with this, it also contains something known as the superior frontal gyrus. This region is believed to play a large role in a human’s self-awareness.
  2. Lateral Frontal Lobe: As in the medial frontal lobe, the lateral frontal lobe also contains the superior frontal gyrus in addition to the middle frontal and the inferior frontal gyrus. The inferior frontal gyrus plays a role in the processing of language.
  3. Polar Region: This region contains what is known as the front marginal gyrus and the transverse front polar gyri.
  4. Orbital Frontal Lobe: This lobe is home to various structures. These structures include the anterior orbital gyrus, the gyrus rectus, the posterior orbital gyrus, and the medial orbital gyrus. The orbital gyri are connected to what is known as the vagus nerve. This vagus nerve is a significant part of the limbic system that allows emotions to be controlled.

How Does the Frontal Lobe Work with the Rest of the Body?

The frontal lobe is often thought of as the place where consciousness is formed. However, even though this is true, it cannot stand alone and function properly. No area of the brain can function fully without the help and input from your body, the other sections of your brain, and the world in which we function. The frontal lobe is no exception to this rule, and it has to work with all other parts of the body to formulate the consciousness.

All regions of the brain, including the frontal lobe, connect to the limbic lobe. The limbic lobe is home to the limbic system which controls any reactions whether they be primitive or automatic. These reactions, however, are very dependent upon both emotions and experiences. Because the frontal lobe is responsible for consciousness, the input it provides to the limbic system is very important.

Because the frontal lobe is responsible for a variety of ‘higher’ cognitive functions, it is particularly dependent upon both experiences and memories. Because of this, any social, educational, or other interactions can affect the frontal lobe tremendously. Another element that contributes a lot to the frontal lobe’s functionality is sensory input.

What Effect Does Damage to the Frontal Lobe Have?

Damage to each region of the brain will have differing effects on the body and mind. With age, the frontal lobe will increasingly diminish starting at the age of 60. This decline in the frontal lobe is often the cause of memory loss, difficulty speaking and aging in general. If your frontal lobe diminishes too fast, this can result in what is known as dementia.

The frontal lobe is one of the most vulnerable sections of the brain. It is so vulnerable because it is the last region to become fully developed, and it is located just behind the forehead. Because of its location and late maturity, it is more susceptible to injury and damage. Anything ranging from child abuse to car accidents can have significant repercussions in frontal lobe functionality.

The repercussions the frontal lobe suffers is dependent upon how severe the damage was. For example, a child who suffers from child abuse may live with these damages for years before being noticed. On the other hand, someone who is in a bad car accident will get near-immediate medical care. The treatment options for damage to the frontal lobe may include both medical and psychological treatment due to its functioning with emotions and personality.

The damage suffered is also dependent on health overall, your age, your treatment, and your environment. Seniors and children are the most susceptible to frontal lobe injury due to their age and the fact that it is either not fully developed or deteriorating. Seniors particularly need to be placed in environments where their brains are stimulated to slow down the deterioration.

Any damage to the frontal lobe can have severe consequences. Some of these damages may result in the following:

  • Dementia- Can lead to a change in behavior and aggression as well as memory loss
  • Language Difficulty
  • Inability to Make Decisions
  • Cannot Plan, Execute, or Retain Attention
  • Memory Loss
  • Change in Personality
  • Intelligence Loss
  • Emotional Changes (anxiety or depression)
  • Inability to Understand Social Cues or Act with Empathy
  • Motor Skill Decline
  • Difficulty with Spatiality
  • Reduplicative Paramnesia- The belief that their home is a copy of another location

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