Brain Structure and Function

Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes are involved with behavior output (including cognitive and social behaviors, as well as movement). This brain region is often affected by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), particularly those caused by acceleration-deceleration forces that occur in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).

Functions associated with the frontal lobes

Spontaneity, Initiating behaviors
Self-regulation of behavior
Abstract reasoning
Attention and Working memory
Executive functioning (e.g., multitasking, organizing)
Movement (including speech movements, facial expressions)

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes include the primary auditory cortex as well as association areas involved in the comprehension and production of spoken language. Regions of the temporal lobes, along with the limbic system (which includes the hippocampus), are also involved in learning and memory. Injury to the temporal lobes is also common with TBI.

Functions associated with the temporal lobes

Auditory processing The ability to focus on one sound among many (e.g., one voice among many at a party)
Comprehension of spoken language
Language production (including fluency and word-finding)
Verbal memory
Visual memory

Occipital Lobes

The occipital lobes are the location of the primary visual cortex and the visual association areas. Injury or lesions to the primary visual cortex cause vision impairments such as blindness or blind spots in visual fields. Damage to the association area can cause difficulties including visual distortions (aka "agnosias") and visual inattention.

Functions associated with the occipital lobes

Visual recognition
Visual attention
Spatial analysis

The Parietal Lobes

The posterior association cortex is located within the parietal lobes. Within this region, information from other cortical areas is integrated to form the basis of complex behaviors, including all behavior involving the senses (e.g., vision, touch, body awareness, spatial orientation).

Functions associated with the parietal lobes

Language comprehension
Constructional ability
Body positioning and movement
Sensory perception (e.g., touch)
Sensory neglect/Inattention
Right-left differentiation
Self-awareness/Insight (e.g., regarding cognitive limitations)

Relationships between Brain Structure and Function

It is generally recognized that most actions and abilities result from the cooperative work of multiple regions of the brain (functional networks). Injury to any component of a functional network can impair abilities associated with that network.

While a thorough discussion of the organization of the brain is beyond the scope of this website, a brief review is offered of the Cerebral Cortex -- the outermost and most anatomically complex part of the brain. Below are the four lobes of the Cerebral Cortex and their most well-known functions.

Occipital Lobes

Parietal Lobes

Temporal Lobes

Frontal Lobes

Visual Recognition

Visual Attention

Spatial analysis

Integration for behavior involving vision, touch, body awareness, and spatial orientation;

Language comprehension

Constructional ability

Body Positioning & Movement

Sensory Perception (e.g., touch)

Sensory Neglect/Innattention

Right-Left Differentiation

Awareness of Limitations



Processing Auditory Input

Object Recognition





Self-Regulation of Behavior

Attention and Working Memory

Executive Functioning (e.g., multitasking, organizing)

Movement (including speech movements, facial expressions)


[1] Johnstone, B., & Stonnington, H.H. (2009). Rehabilitation of Neuropsychological Disorders: A Practical Guide for Rehabilitation Professionals, Second Edition. New York, NY: Psychology Press.