Frontal Lobe 

Last update: September 16, 2022
By BrainMatters

The frontal lobe is the anterior brain area, and thus lies anterior to the parietal lobe. The area of the frontal lobe that borders the parietal lobe is the primary motor cortex. This is the most posterior part of the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to be fully developed. This area of the brain continues to grow up to the age of 20.

The frontal lobe is very sensitive to dopamine, the brain's "reward" chemical. Dopamine increases or decreases the amount of sensory information passed from the thalamus to other areas of the brain. Because of this, the frontal lobe is also often associated with motivation, attention, planning and working memory tasks. Processes responsible for executive functioning take place in the frontal lobe. This includes recognising the consequences of certain actions, choosing between two different actions, suppressing socially undesirable reactions and identifying differences and similarities between different situations.

There are many different theories about how the frontal lobe functions. These theories can be divided into four categories:

  • Single-process theories, that say that different structures in the frontal lobe are responsible for different processes.
  • Multiprocess theories, that assume that different structures in the frontal lobe work together to be able to function
  • Construct-led theories, that attempt to explain all frontal lobe functions by a single mechanism, such as working memory.
  • Single-symptom theories, that suggest that a specific frontal lobe dysfunction is related to underlying structures

Damage to the frontal lobe can have many consequences, such as problems with flexibility and spontaneity. In addition, this damage can lead to extreme risk-taking and increased or decreased talking. Creativity and sexual feelings can also be diminished when there is damage 

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Pauline van Gils)

Image: Marcel Loeffen

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