Your frontal lobes are located right behind your forehead. They’re responsible for many vital functions, including voluntary movements and impulse control, among others.

The cerebrum is the largest part of your brain. In fact, when you’re asked to visualize what the brain looks like, the cerebrum is probably what comes to mind.

The surface of the cerebrum appears grayish and wrinkled in many drawings. But, in fact, it’s actually a beige color and doesn’t have wrinkles; it has crevices, called sulci. It’s separated into two hemispheres, the right and the left.

Each hemisphere has a set of four lobes. Lobes are large areas of your brain that have a certain location and are associated with a set of functions. Your lobes include the:

This article will take a closer look at the function of the frontal lobe as well as what happens when this area of the brain is injured.

Check out some interesting facts about your frontal lobe:

  • The frontal lobes are the largest of the lobes in your brain. They’re located at the front of your brain. It’s estimated they make up about one-third of your cerebrum.
  • The frontal lobe of primates, particularly humans, is much larger than those of other species. You might say the frontal lobe is the most important area for our various “human” skills, such as reasoning and language.
  • The frontal lobes are extensively connected with nerve pathways to other areas of the brain, reinforcing their importance in a vast array of functions. As such, damage to the frontal lobes may cause a “ripple effect” to other parts of the brain.
  • Your frontal lobes are the last areas of your brain to mature. In some cases, they may not be fully developed until your mid-20s.
  • The frontal lobes are important for movement. In fact, researchers have mapped the areas of the frontal lobes that control the movement of specific body parts. This map is called the motor homunculus.

The frontal lobe plays a role in many higher level functions of your brain. This can include:

  • voluntary movements (which are movements you control) of the opposite side of your body
  • sequencing of complex or multistep movements, such as getting dressed or making a cup of tea
  • speech and language production in the dominant frontal lobe (opposite your dominant hand)
  • attention and concentration
  • working memory, which involves processing recently acquired information
  • reasoning and judgment
  • organization and planning
  • problem-solving
  • regulation of emotions and mood, including reading the emotions of others
  • personality expression
  • motivation, including evaluating rewards, pleasure, and happiness
  • impulse control
  • controlling social behaviors

A famous case of frontal lobe damage is that of Phineas Gage. In 1848, Gage was injured in an explosion that caused a railroad spike to pierce his frontal lobe. The resulting injury caused drastic changes in Gage’s personality and behavior.

As we’ve learned, the frontal lobe is responsible for many different types of functions. Because of this, damage to the frontal lobe can cause a variety of different symptoms depending on the area that’s affected.

Some potential symptoms of frontal lobe damage can 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
  • difficulties with higher order functions like reasoning, problem-solving, and judgment
  • problems with maintaining attention or concentration
  • decreases 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

A variety of factors can lead to damage of your frontal lobe, such as:

Treatment for damage to the frontal lobe depends on what’s caused the damage to occur. If you have frontal lobe damage, your treatment plan may include a team of several types of healthcare professionals.

Some examples of potential treatments for frontal lobe damage include:

  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you maintain or regain mobility, strength, and flexibility.
  • Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can help you learn new strategies so you can more easily perform daily tasks and activities, like getting dressed, eating, or bathing.
  • Vocational counseling. This type of counseling can help you return to work and teach you ways to deal with various workplace demands.
  • Speech-language therapy. Speech-language therapy can aid in improving communication or teaching you how to use assistive devices.
  • Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy can help you work on skills like planning, judgment, and memory.
  • Psychological therapy. This can help improve relationships, emotional responses, and coping skills.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be recommended in cases when an injury or brain tumor is causing damage.

In some cases, the cause of the frontal lobe damage may be permanent. One example of this is neurodegenerative diseases. In these cases, treatment may also involve medications.

You have two frontal lobes: one in the right hemisphere of your brain and one in the left hemisphere of your brain. They’re located in the area of the brain that’s directly behind your forehead.

Your frontal lobes are vital for many important functions. These can include, but aren’t limited to, voluntary movement, speech, and problem-solving. Damage to the frontal lobes can affect one or more of the functions of this area of your brain.

An injury, stroke, infection, or neurodegenerative disease most often causes damage to the frontal lobes. Treatment depends on the cause of the damage and typically involves several types of rehabilitative therapy.