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What Is a Cortical Lobe?

The parietal operculum processes information from many of the senses, for example, touch.
The cortical lobes include the occipital lobe, which is the part of the brain that helps turn what the eyes see into meaningful information.
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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2014
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A cortical lobe is one of four sections of the brain which control behavior, memory, and sensory perception. Also called the cerebral lobes, the cortical lobes are named the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. Both the left and right hemispheres have one of each cortical lobe. While the frontal lobe is separated from the occipital and the parietal lobes by a fissure in the brain tissue, the other lobes are only separated by imaginary lines.

As its name suggests, the frontal lobe is the forefront of the brain. The frontal lobe is largely responsible for impulse control and other behavioral functions, as well as some cognition and speech. Both problem solving and learning, as well as the creation of short term memories, happen in the frontal lobe. Additionally, voluntary movement is processed primarily in this lobe.

The parietal lobe, which encompasses the top midsection of the brain, rests directly behind the frontal lobe. The central sulcus, a fissure in the brain, divides the frontal and parietal lobes. The parietal lobe is responsible for processing the senses of touch and taste, as well as general sensations such as heat and discomfort. Additionally, this cortical lobe contains an area, called the angular gyrus, which is unique to humans and responsible for much of human speech.

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The occipital lobe deals mostly with the sense of sight. Located in the back of the brain behind the parietal and temporal lobes, the occipital lobe is separated from the other two lobes by imaginary lines. The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for processing the information seen by the eyes. This also means it stores a great deal of memory used, in part, to identify the names and functions of said objects.

The final cortical lobe, the temporal lobe, is responsible for processing sounds and smells. Located below the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe is separated from the frontal lobe by the lateral sulcus, and by the other two lobes by imaginary lines. The temporal lobe also contributes to understanding language. The hippocampus resides in this lobe as well and has a large role in transferring short term memories to long term memories.

Although each cortical lobe of the brain has specific functions, many functions are shared by two or more lobes. Different aspects of language skills, for example, are found in each lobe of the brain. Likewise, although the occipital lobe is primarily responsible for processing visual stimuli, the temporal and parietal lobes also play a part in identifying that information.

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