Interactive Brain

Lateral view of the human brain
Medial view of the human brain

Brain Basics

Introduction

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. 

You can hover over the brain image to highlight different parts, and click them to see a description of that part, or tab through the slideshow controls to navigate to different brain parts.

The description of a part will include what might happen when it is 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 to the opposite side or even throughout the brain.

Frontal Lobe

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 & decision making
  • memory & attention
  • controlling behavior, emotions & impulses

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

Problems After Injury

Injury to the frontal lobes may affect:

  • emotions & impulses
  • language
  • memory
  • social and sexual behavior

Parietal Lobe

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

 

Temporal Lobe

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 Lobe

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

 

Cerebellum

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

 

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

Hypothalamus

Located below the thalamus and above the brain stem, the hypothalamus:

  • helps us regulate body temperature
  • helps us realize when we are hungry or thirsty
  • plays a role in what mood we might be feeling
  • releases and controls many hormones that we need to function

Injury to the hypothalamus may affect:

  • sex drive
  • sleep
  • hunger
  • thirst
  • emotions

Pituitary Gland

Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland:

  • regulates and releases important hormones to our body
  • plays a big part of our overall well-being

Injury to the pituitary gland may affect:

  • growth in children
  • blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • sex drive
  • body temperature
  • pain

Amygdala

Located near the hippocampus in the frontal portion of the temporal lobes, the amygdala:

  • are invovled in the formation and storage of information related to emotional events
  • facilitate long-term memory formation
  • convert and retain learning from pleasure responses
  • help us recognize when we are in danger or fearful of something

Injury to the amygdala may affect:

  • memory formation
  • emotional sensitivity
  • learning and rentention
  • depression
  • anxiety

Hippocampus

The hippocampus is located in the medial temporal lobe. The cells in the hippocampus are hypersensitive to oxygen loss or lower blood flow in the case of a brain injury. The hippocampus:

  • is responsible for memory creation and retention
  • helps us create new memories
  • helps us orient ourselves in our surroundings
  • facilitates our ability to navigate and find our way around the world

Injury to the hippocampus may affect:

  • new memory creation
  • new memory retention
  • mood
  • confusion
  • disorientation
Posted on BrainLine August 21, 2012. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Comments (62)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

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