Brain Functions and Brain Areas

Below is a list of brain functions, along with conditions or symptoms revealed when problems occur in brain areas. The terms in parenthesis are the professional terms used to describe the deficit. Please refer to the brain maps on this page for an illustration of the main areas of the human brain.


Frontal Lobes (Frontal Cortex) – Functions

  • How we know what we are doing within our environment (Consciousness)
  • How we initiate activity in response to our environment
  • Judgments we make about what occurs in our daily activities
  • Controls our emotional response (Inhibition)
  • Controls our expressive language
  • Assigns meaning to the words we choose

Frontal Lobes (Frontal Cortex)


Frontal Lobes: Brain Conditions and Symptoms

  • Inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-stepped tasks, such as making coffee (Executive Function/Sequencing)
  • Loss of spontaneity in interacting with others, loss of flexibility in thinking
  • Persistence of a single thought (Perseveration)
  • Inability to focus on task (Attention)
  • Mood changes (Emotionally Labile)
  • Changes in social behavior. Changes in personality.
  • Difficulty with problem solving (Executive Function)
  • Inablility to express language (Broca’s Aphasia)


Temporal Lobes (Temporal Cortex) – Functions

  • Hearing ability
  • Memory acquisition and recall
  • Some visual perceptions
  • Categorization of objects

Temporal Lobes (Temporal Cortex)


Temporal Lobes: Brain Conditions and Symptoms

  • Difficulty in recognizing faces (Prosopagnosia)
  • Difficulty in understanding spoken words (Wernicke’s Aphasia)
  • Difficulty with identification of, and verbalization about objects
  • Short-term memory loss. Interference with long-term memory recall (Mild Cognitive Impairment, early Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Right lobe damage can cause persistent talking


Parietal Lobes (Parietal Cortex) – Functions

  • Location for visual attention
  • Location for touch perception
  • Goal directed voluntary movements
  • Manipulation of objects
  • Integration of different senses that allows for understanding a single concept

Parietal Lobes (Parietal Cortex)


Parietal Lobes: Brain Conditions and Symptoms

  • Inability to name an object (Anomia)
  • Inability to locate the words for writing (Agraphia)
  • Problems with reading (Alexia)
  • Difficulty with drawing objects
  • Difficulty in distinguishing left from right
  • Lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space (Apraxia) that leads to difficulties in self-care.
  • Difficulties with eye and hand coordination


Occipital Lobes (Visual Cortex)


Occipital Lobes: Brain Conditions and Symptoms

  • Defects in vision (Visual Field Cuts)
  • Difficulty with locating objects in environment
  • Production of hallucinations/visual illusions – inaccurately seeing objects
  • Word blindness – inability to recognize words
  • Inability to recognize the movement of an object (Movement Agnosia)


Brain Stem: Functions

  • Breathing, Heart Rate, Swallowing, Reflexes to seeing and hearing (Startle Response)
  • Controls sweating, blood pressure, digestion, temperature (Autonomic Nervous System)
  • Affects level of alertness
  • Sense of balance (Vestibular Function)


Brain Conditions and Symptoms: Brain Stem

  • Decreased vital capacity in breathing, important for speech
  • Swallowing food and water (Dysphagia)
  • Difficulty with organization/perception of the environment
  • Problems with balance and movement
  • Dizziness and nausea (Vertigo)

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