What does the frontal lobe do? The human brain is an incredibly complex organ and scientists have yet to fully understand everything that goes on inside our heads, although in the case of some people, there is probably not a lot going on for much of the time!
There are three major parts of the brain, each of which has a different function: the forebrain, the hindbrain, and the brain stem. The forebrain, also known as the cerebrum, is associated with all higher mental functions and can be divided up into separate lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe, and the temporal lobe.
What does the frontal lobe do in the brain?
The frontal lobe handles all of our complex thoughts and the anterior portion of the frontal lobe plays a crucial part in higher cognitive functions. The frontal lobe can be described as the “executive” section of the brain. It gives us the ability to choose between good and bad, plus it can override unacceptable behaviour or inappropriate responses.
It is this area of the brain that makes us who we are—basically the prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobe determines our behaviour, emotions, and our personality. The rear section of the frontal lobe is where the nerve cells that control our motor and premotor functions are located. The motor area allows us to move and the premotor area modifies the movement. An area known as the central culcus divides the frontal lobe from the parietal lobe.
What does the frontal lobe do?
Some scientists also believe that the prefrontal cortex plays a key role in forming short-term memories. It can be described as a temporary storage area; kind of like an in-tray inside your brain. Whenever something is going on and there is a great deal of stimulatory information to deal with, the prefrontal cortex has been demonstrated to show signs of being exceptionally busy when viewed on MRI scans, or similar. Because of this, scientists believe that the prefrontal cortex acts as a flexible information storage receptacle for the task at hand.
Unfortunately, because the frontal lobe is located at the front of the head, it is a part of the brain that is exceptionally vulnerable to injury. People who have suffered a brain injury affecting their frontal lobe often experience devastating changes in their personality and emotional responses.
Alzheimer’s disease can also have a similar effect when the degeneration begins to affect the frontal lobe of the brain. Deterioration of the frontal lobe of the brain due to advancing Alzheimer’s disease causes the victim to show bizarre behavioural patterns amongst other symptoms.
Patients with frontal lobe brain injury or Alzheimer’s often cease to interact with family and friends and lose interest in things they previously enjoyed doing. Because this area of the brain is also known as being responsible for organisation and planning, damage to the frontal lobe of the brain can affect a victim’s ability to partake in organised events and plan ahead.
Frontal lobotomies were briefly practised at the beginning of the 20th century as a medical treatment for mental illness. Thankfully, this kind of indiscriminate surgical treatment is no longer practiced.