Frontal lobe

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Graphic of cerebral lobes. Light brown section of the graphic depicts the area of the frontal lobe. (Click on graphic to enlarge)

The frontal lobe, or front brain, refers to the front half of a brain.

The Centre for Neuro Skills say about the frontal lobes and their function:

The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. There is no other part of the brain where lesions can cause such a wide variety of symptoms (Kolb & Wishaw, 1990). The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. The frontal lobes are extremely vulnerable to injury due to their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. MRI studies have shown that the frontal area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (Levin et al., 1987).

There are important asymmetrical differences in the frontal lobes. The left frontal lobe is involved in controlling language related movement, whereas the right frontal lobe plays a role in non-verbal abilities. Some researchers emphasize that this rule is not absolute and that with many people, both lobes are involved in nearly all behavior.[1] declares about the frontal lobe:

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills in humans, such as emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behavior. It is, in essence, the “control panel” of our personality and our ability to communicate.

It is also responsible for primary motor function, or our ability to consciously move our muscles, and the two key areas related to speech, including Broca’s area.

The frontal lobe is larger and more developed in humans than in any other organism.[2]

The health writer Molly McAdams writes about the function of the frontal lobes:

Higher-level thinking is supported by the frontal lobes. Activity in these lobes allows us to reason, make judgments, make plans for the near and far future, make choices, take action, solve problems and generally control our living environment. Without fully functioning frontal lobes, you may have intelligence, but you wouldn’t be able to put it to use.[3]

Frontal lobes and mental illness

Malfunction in the frontal lobe can lead to a number of mental illnesses including schizophrenia.

Frontal lobotomy

The frontal lobotomy was invented as a way to treat those suffering from a frontal lobe malfunction, although that procedure has become more rare in modern times.

Religiosity and larger frontal lobes

See also: Religiosity and larger frontal lobes and Atheism and the brain

According to Scientific American:

Several studies have revealed that people who practice meditation or have prayed for many years exhibit increased activity and have more brain tissue in their frontal lobes, regions associated with attention and reward, as compared with people who do not meditate or pray.[4]

Frontal lobe injury and homosexuality

See also: Homosexuality and frontal lobe injury

As noted above, the frontal lobe plays a role in controlling sexual behavior.[5]

According to the 2007 medical journal article (and its abstract) entitled Neurological control of human sexual behaviour: insights from lesion studies which was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry:

We review the human literature examining the effects of neurological insult on human sexual behaviour. We provide a synthesis of the findings to date, and identify key brain regions associated with specific aspects of human sexual behaviour. These include subcortical and cortical regions, with the mesial temporal lobe and the amygdala in particular being a crucial structure in the mediation of human sexual drive...

Disinhibited sexual behaviour has been reported following damage to the frontal lobes, particularly the orbitofrontal region of the limbic system.

Kolarsky and colleagues54 examined the relationships between “sexual deviation”, age of lesion onset and localisation of lesion (temporal vs extratemporal). The authors defined two diagnostic categories: (1) “sexual deviation”, involving a deviation of sexual object (for example, paedophilia). Homosexuality was included in this category, which would now be considered inappropriate, and (2) “sexual disturbances other than deviations”, including orgasm in response to stimuli unrelated to the subject's sexual preference, hypersexuality and hyposexuality...

An association between temporal lobe abnormalities and paedophilia has been reported by Mendez and colleagues.[6]


  1. Frontal lobes, The Centre for Neuro Skills
  2. Frontal lobe,
  3. [What Are the Functions of Frontal Lobe of Brain?] by Molly McAdams
  4. Ask the Brains, Scientific American, Dec 23, 2011
  5. Frontal lobe,
  6. Neurological control of human sexual behaviour: insights from lesion studies,J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2007 Oct; 78(10): 1042–1049.