The Frontal Lobes

The large section of matter in the front part of our brain is called the frontal lobe. This brain area controls the higher functions of the human mind, such as memory, mood, general thinking, language production, personality, and consciousness. While not crucial for feeding, breathing, populating, or avoiding danger, it is the area of our brain that makes us uniquely human. The frontal lobes serve as the coordinator of all of the information which is received and processed by the other areas of the brain. Think of the frontal lobes as the leader of an orchestra and the rest of the brain as the instruments. Without the conductor, the instruments sound jumbled and disorganized.

Recent research has found that the frontal lobes continue to develop in humans beyond age 22 and possibly as far as age 35. This is due to a process called “neuronal pruning”. If you think of a tree as having healthier and stronger branches once it has been pruned, this is what happens in normal brain development. If something happens, however, to interrupt that process, such as a serious accident or injury to the frontal lobes, the results can be devastating.

Because of its location, the frontal lobes are most susceptible to injury during traumatic accidents. In fact, the most common cognitive complaints from patients traumatically injured, attention and memory difficulties, word finding problems, and integrating information for problem solving and decision-making, are most likely due to damage to this area (after taking into account the effects of physical pain, emotional distress, and sleep disturbances).

2 Responses to “The Frontal Lobes”

  1. Christopher Manhoff April 12, 2018 at 11:28 am

    “New findings on the adult brain establish two principles. First, the adult brain continues to grow and develop throughout our entire life. Second, brain development in adulthood is shaped mostly by outside stimuli. This new thinking means that we can do healthy “workouts” for our brains, as well as our bodies!” from OHSU Brain Institute website.

    • You’re correct! The brain continues to harbour innate potential to grow and develop. It’s true that brain health workouts are very important for brain health and it is best if those workouts are personalized, are challenging and include novelty. Cognition is affected by internal and external stimuli, in my opinion. Thank you for writing to us.

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