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“Your brain – every brain – is a work in progress. It is ‘plastic.’ From the day we’re born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining, as a function of how we use it.” Michael Merzenich

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Brain Functions

Ahhhh! Doesn't this just excite you! The brain in the most complex of all part of the human body! Weighing in a less than 1lb at birth, the adult brain grows to about 3lbs. While certainly a collective and collaborative effort, there are many different regions of the brain, of which play their unique role in propelling our human greatness. 

There are several divided regions of the brain, called lobes:

  • Frontal

  • Temporal

  • Parietal 

  • Occipital 

  • Cerebellum

  • Brain Stem

The frontal lobes are highly interrelated with many brain regions, especially with the parietal lobe and limbic system (emotions). For the most part, the right frontal lobe controls the left side of the body and the left frontal lobe controls the right side of the body. This is why an injury to one side of the frontal lobe, often causes changes to occur on the opposing side.

Functions include:

  • self monitoring 

  • attention 

  • organization 

  • personality 

  • judgement

  • emotions

  • problem solving 

  • concentration 

  • expressive language (speaking)

  • awareness of abilities

  • awareness of limitations 

  • mental flexibility 

  • inhibition of behavior 

When the frontal lobe is injured, the result is often devastating. The frontal lobe is responsible for so many of our executive functioning skills and personality. When the frontal lobe is injured, it may seem as if you're looking at a stranger. 

Frontal Lobe
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Working in Neuroscience ICU, I found frontal lobe injuries to be some of the most disheartening. The frontal lobe contains a great bit of what makes you-you. Often when an individual suffers a frontal lobe injury, they become anyone EXCEPT who they used to be. One of the great challenges in NSICU, was doing my best to get the family/friends to understand, "This is not really Steve cursing at you, this is the nature of the injury he suffered," as the preacher father and Sunday school teacher mother stand mortified. 

Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe is responsible for:

  • organization 

  • hearing

  • memory

  • sequencing

  • understanding (receptive) language

An injury to the temporal lobes may lead individuals to demonstrate difficulty with communication or memory (BIAA, 2019). 

Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe is responsible for:

  • spatial/depth perception 

  • identification of sizes, shapes, and color

  • visual perception 

  • sense of touch 

A person with damage to the right parietal lobe may not even recognize that anything is wrong with movement of the body's left side, due to neurological damage. Other, more complex, functions like attention and awareness can also be affected by damage to the parietal lobes (BIAA, 2019)

Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobe is responsible for: vision 

An injury to the occipital lobe often creates visual-spatial-motoric distortions.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is responsible for a person's every move. It monitors impulses from the motor and sensory centers to help control the direction, rate, force, and steadiness of a person's movement (BIAA, 2019). 

The cerebellum is responsible for:

  • skilled motor activity

  • visual perception 

  • balance and coordination 

An injury to the cerebellum may affect balance, movement and coordination. 

Brainstem

The brainstem is responsible for relaying information to the brain and from the brain and is responsible for basic life functions. 

The brainstem is responsible for: 

  • consciousness

  • heartrate

  • breathing

  • arousal

  • sleep & wake cycles

The brain stem controls the body’s involuntary functions that are essential for survival, such as breathing and heart rate (BIAA, 2019).