frontal lobe, brain anatomy, brain injury

The Frontal Lobe

The brain consists of four lobes on the left and right side: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe. Each lobe has different functions.  

The frontal lobe controls our executive function, which is a set of complex mental skills needed to help us learn new information, retain information, and use information to solve everyday problems. Here are some common executive functions that we may use in our everyday lives:  

Executive Function  Definition  Example 
Planning  The process of thinking ahead to complete a task or goal  Writing down when your school assignments are due on a planner 
Organizing   Grouping something in order or into a structured whole  Alphabetizing folders by last name at your job 
Initiating  To start or begin a process or action  Asking someone of his or name to start a conversation 
Sequencing  Doing or arranging something in a particular order  Following a recipe to cook a meal 
Problem-solving  Finding solutions to problems  Asking your professor for help on homework 
Attention  The ability to focus on someone or something for a certain amount of time and shifting that focus when needed  Being able to read your book with the TV on 
Working Memory  The ability to keep information in your mind while using it  Dialing a phone number you just learned onto your phone 
Emotional Regulation  The ability to control your emotions in challenging situations  Controlling your anger while driving during traffic hours 
Impulse Control  The ability to stop and think before doing something  Choosing not to speed while driving to prevent a car accident 
Flexibility  The ability to adapt to unexpected changes by changing strategies or behavior  Taking an alternative route to work due to unexpected road closures 
Self-Monitoring  The ability to monitor and evaluate yourself  Being aware of your table manners when eating at a restaurant 


These cognitive skills are important because they help us perform our everyday activities and routines more easily, functionally, and safely. 

Additionally, the frontal lobe has many other functions that play a role in our daily lives. These include: 

Function  Description 
Speech and Language Production  Broca’s area, which is part of the frontal lobe, helps put your thoughts into words.  
Controlling Voluntary Movement  The primary motor cortex, which is also part of the frontal lobe, helps you move your body consciously, such as for running or walking. 
Comparing Objects  The frontal lobe helps you categorize and classify objects and distinguish one object from another. 
Understanding the Feelings of Others  The frontal lobe is associated with our ability to feel empathy. 
Personality Development  The frontal lobe is home to our personality,  
Motivation and Reward-seeking Behavior  The frontal lobe has many dopamine neurons. Dopamine is a chemical that supports our feelings of motivation, reward, pleasure, and happiness.


Damage to the frontal lobe may cause a variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include: 

  • Loss of movement, either partial (paresis) or complete (paralysis), on the opposite side of the body 
  • Difficulty performing tasks that require a sequence of movements 
  • Trouble with speech or language (aphasia) 
  • Poor planning or organization 
  • Persistence with one behavior, way of thinking, or set of rules  
  • Difficulty with higher order functions, such as reasoning, problem-solving, and judgment 
  • Difficulty maintaining attention or concentration 
  • Decrease in motivation  
  • Mood swings 
  • Impaired ability to initiate activities or interactions 
  • Drastic changes in personality or behavior, which can include apathy, irritability, and inappropriate social behavior 
  • Poor impulse control or lack of inhibition 

However, there are general strategies to use for individuals with a frontal lobe injury. Some of these strategies are: 

  • Using a planner or calendar 
  • Using effective electronic apps, i.e., reminder calls/alarms 
  • Playing memory and/or brain games  
  • Determining triggers of behavior  
  • Yoga or Meditation 
  • Journaling 


For more TBI Glossary Terms, click here.

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