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Frontal Lobe

Quick facts about the Frontal lobe:

  1. Location: Frontal and upper area of the cortex above the temporal lobes and in front of the parietal lobes
  2. Function: Carries out higher mental processes such as thinking, decision making, and planning.

Illustration depicting the Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobes of your brain are arguably the regions of the brain that make you you. You use your frontal lobe nearly everyday. You use it to make decisions, such as what to eat or drink for breakfast in the morning, as well as for thinking or studying for a test. The frontal lobe is also where our personality is formed and where we can carry out higher mental processes such as planning. In addition, the frontal lobe is necessary to being able to speak fluently (without fault) and meaningfully.

What happens with the frontal lobe is damaged?

One of the easiest ways to see how important the frontal lobe is, is to see what happens when part of it is damaged. Things that can happen when the frontal lobe is damaged include:

  • Paralysis or loss of movement in the body
  • An inability to sequence events, which makes planning or the ability to complete multi-step tasks very difficult
  • Difficulty or inability to problem-solve
  • Damage can result in people losing the ability to be spontaneous when interacting with other people
  • Inability to control your impulses
  • Broca’s Aphasia – this is the inability to express yourself using words, you’re essentially speaking “word salad” 
  • The inability to think flexibly and to persevere with a thought
  • Its easier to be distracted and holding your attention is a challenge
  • It’s harder to regulate your emotions so mood swings are common

Fun Fact

Replica skull of Phineas Gage before accident

In the mid 1800s, Phineas Gage, a railroad worker, miraculously survived an accident where a large iron pole was said to have been driven into his head, specifically into the frontal lobe. After the incident, Gage’s personality was said to have changed drastically, or a lot. His friends claimed that the once kind and hard working Gage had changed after the accident to a lazy and rude man until he died years later. However, this incident did allow doctors and psychologists (doctors who study the mind) to analyze the brain and see the importance and functions of the frontal lobe.