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What happens when the brain is injured?

Animated Deceleration Injury from a Traumatic Brain Injury

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What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Concussion Recovery


The brain is incredibly complex. Here we’ll show you the major parts, where they are located, and some of what they are responsible for. Just move your mouse over the brain to get started. As you hover over different parts, you’ll see a description here. The description will include what might happen when different areas of the brain are injured. Please keep in mind that brain injuries can be as complex as the brain itself. A blow to one part of the head can potentially cause damage on the opposite side or even throughout the brain. To learn more about what happens when the brain is injured, please see the resources below.

Frontal Lobes

Located behind the forehead, the frontal lobes are the largest lobes of the brain. They are prone to injury because they sit just inside the front of the skull and near rough bony ridges. These two lobes are involved in:

  • planning
  • organizing
  • problem solving
  • memory
  • impulse control
  • decision making
  • selective attention
  • controlling our behavior and emotions

The left frontal lobe plays a large role in speech and language.

Problems After Injury

Injury to the frontal lobes may affect:

  • emotions
  • impulse control
  • language
  • memory
  • social and sexual behavior

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes are located on the sides of the brain under the parietal lobes and behind the frontal lobes at about the level of the ears. They are responsible for:

  • recognizing and processing sound
  • understanding and producing speech
  • various aspects of memory

Problems After Injury

Damage to specific parts of the temporal lobe can result in:

  • hearing loss
  • language problems
  • sensory problems like the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face

Occipital Lobes

Located at the lower back of the head, the occipital lobes:

  • receive and process visual information
  • contain areas that help in perceiving shapes and colors

Problems After Injury

Damage to the occipital lobes can cause:

  • visual field defects
  • distorted perceptions of size, color, and shape

Parietal Lobes

Located behind the frontal lobes, the parietal lobes:

  • integrate sensory information from various parts of the body
  • contain the primary sensory cortex, which controls sensation (touch, hot or cold, pain)
  • tell us which way is up
  • help to keep us from bumping into things when we walk

Problems After Injury

Damage to the parietal lobes may result in:

  • an inability to locate parts of your body
  • an inability to recognize parts of your body

Brain Stem

Located at the base of the brain, the brainstem is composed of the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. It regulates basic involuntary functions necessary for survival such as:

  • breathing
  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • swallowing

It also plays a role in alertness and sensation.

Problems After Injury

Injury to the brainstem can disrupt basic functions so that they are no longer regulated automatically. These functions can include:

  • heart rate
  • breathing
  • swallowing


Located at the back of the brain, the cerebellum controls:

  • balance
  • movement
  • coordination

The cerebellum also allows us to:

  • stand upright
  • keep our balance
  • move around

Problems After Injury

Damage to the cerebellum can result in:

  • uncoordinated movement
  • loss of muscle tone
  • an unsteady gait


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