Function of Parts of Brain

The human brain is an exquisitely complex and highly organized organ. The forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain comprise the three functional regions of the brain. Within each region, individual lobes and structures exist, which control specific bodily functions and mental processes. Coordination of functions among the different parts of the brain occurs via an extensive nerve network that facilitates crosstalk.

Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes occupy the front of the brain, above the eyes. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that the motor areas of the frontal lobes control voluntary movement. The process of converting thoughts into speech occurs in a region of the frontal lobes known as Broca’s area. Other functions of the frontal lobes include imagination, inhibition of socially inappropriate behavior, the experience of emotions and nuanced traits that characterize personality.

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes sit beneath the frontal lobes on the side of the head. The National Institute on Aging notes that the temporal lobes process sensory perceptions associated with sound, smell and taste. The temporal lobes also play in important role in storage and retrieval of memories, including sensory memories.

Parietal Lobes

The parietal lobes occupy the area behind the frontal lobes. As explained by the University of Virginia Health System, interpretation of the body’s position relative to other objects occurs in the parietal lobes. The parietal lobes also contain the sensory cortex, which processes bodily sensations including temperature, pressure, pleasurable touch and pain. Other parietal lobe functions include object recognition, reading and the capacity for mathematical calculation.

Occipital Lobes

The occipital lobes lie behind the parietal lobes at the back of the head. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that the primary function of the occipital lobes is processing visual input from the eyes. Communication between the right and left parietal lobes enables a single visual experience despite separate input from each eye.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum occupies the region under the occipital lobes. The cerebellum acts as the body’s coordination and balance center. The National Institute on Aging explains that the cerebellum receives and processes positional input from the muscles, joints, eyes and ears. Instructional signals sent to other parts of the brain enable coordinated movement. Learning and perfecting motor skills are also functions of the cerebellum.

Brainstem

The midbrain, pons and the medulla oblongata comprise the brainstem, which provides the connection between the spinal cord and higher brain centers. Control of essential body functions including breathing and the beating of the heart reside within the brainstem, notes the National Brain Tumor Society. Other functions of the brainstem include control of wakefulness and sleeping, and control and coordination of eye movements.

About this Author

Tina Andrews has been a medical writer and editor since 2000. She has published in “Cancer,” “Ethnicity & Disease,” and “Liver Health Today,” and was formerly a medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Andrews holds a Doctor of Medicine degree and a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry.