Skip to Content
What is a Brain Injury?

Functions of the Brain

The human brain is magnificent and complex. The brain is made up of many parts, each with a specific and important function. It controls our ability to balance, walk, talk, and eat. It coordinates and regulates our breathing, blood circulation, and heart rate. It is responsible for our ability to speak, to process and remember information, make decisions, and feel emotions. Every brain is unique, ever-changing, and extremely sensitive to its environment.

image showing the functions of the brain

The brain is divided into functional sections, called lobes:

  • Frontal Lobe (shown in orange)
  • Temporal Lobe (pink)
  • Parietal Lobe (blue)
  • Occipital Lobe (green)
  • Cerebellum (red)
  • Brain Stem (yellow)

Each lobe has an important and specific function, detailed below.

Frontal Lobes Functions (Orange)

  • Attention 
  • Concentration
  • Self-Monitoring
  • Organization
  • Expressive Language (Speaking)
  • Motor Planning & Initiation
  • Awareness of Abilities
  • Awareness of Limitations
  • Personality
  • Mental Flexibility
  • Inhibition of Behavior
  • Emotions
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Judgment

An injury to the frontal lobes may affect an individual’s ability to control emotions, impulses, and behavior or may cause difficulty recalling events or speaking.

Brain Stem Functions (Yellow)

  • Breathing
  • Arousal
  • Consciousness
  • Heart Rate
  • Sleep & Wake Cycles

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


Temporal Lobes Functions (Pink)

  • Memory
  • Understanding Language (Receptive Language)
  • Sequencing
  • Hearing
  • Organization

An injury to the temporal lobes may lead individuals to demonstrate difficulty with communication or memory.

Parietal Lobes Functions (Blue)

  • Sense of Touch
  • Spatial Perception (Depth Perception)
  • Identification of Sizes, Shapes, Colors
  • Visual Perception

Individuals who have injured their parietal lobes may have trouble with their five primary senses.

Cerebellum Functions (Red)

  • Balance & Coordination
  • Skilled Motor Activity
  • Visual Perception

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

Occipital Lobes Functions (Green)

  • Vision

An injury to one’s occipital lobes may lead to trouble seeing or perceiving the size and shape of objects. 

image highlighting functions of the brain

The functional sections (lobes) of the brain are also categorized by side – the right side and the left side. If you split the brain down the middle into two equally-sized parts, they are not the same and do not carry the same functions. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, while the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. Each side is responsible for different functions, and general patterns of dysfunction may occur depending on the side of the brain sustaining an injury.

The traits of each side are detailed below:

Left Side Traits Right Side Traits
  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Precise
  • Organized
  • Detached
  • Literal

Injuries of the left side of the brain can cause:

  • Difficulties understanding language (receptive language)
  • Difficulties in speaking or verbal output (expressive language)
  • Catastrophic reactions (depression, anxiety)
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Impaired logic
  • Sequencing difficulties
  • Decreased control over right-sided body movements
  • Creative
  • Imaginative
  • Intuitive
  • Conceptual
  • Empathetic
  • Figurative

Injuries of the right side of the brain can cause:

  • Visual-spatial impairment
  • Visual memory deficits
  • Left neglect (inattention to the left side of the body)
  • Decreased awareness of deficits
  • Altered creativity and music perception
  • Loss of “the big picture” type of thinking
  • Decreased control over left-sided body movements

Join our community and get a copy of our guide: What to Expect After Brain Injury

Living with a brain injury can require many different types of resources, strategies, and supports, the range of which can be tremendous. Sign up to join our monthly newsletter, and in addition to receiving news and resources from the brain injury community, we’ll give you a free copy of our guide: What to Expect After Brain Injury. This is guide can help survivors and caregivers navigate life post-injury.

Download the guide

Sign Up to Join Our Community!

Enter your name and email to receive a free copy of our What to Expect After Brain Injury Guide.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.