The lobes of your brain

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The lobes of your brain

Each of the cerebral hemispheres (the right and left sides of the brain) is further divided into four lobes:

The frontal lobe

A diagram of the location of each of the lobes of the brain.

What does the frontal lobe do?

  • Speech: speaking and writing
  • Movement
  • Personality
  • Behaviour
  • Reasoning
  • Judgement, planning and problem-solving.

How will a brain tumour in the frontal lobe affect me?

Symptoms you may have if the frontal lobe is affected include:

  • A change in mood or unusual behaviour.
  • Your sense of smell, vision and movement may be affected. 
  • You may have problems with organisation for example you may find it difficult to think logically, plan complex tasks, or handle abstract concepts.
  • The inability to estimate distances or interpret proverbs.
  • You may find it difficult to speak fluently. People sometimes describe having trouble putting their sentences together or knowing what they want to say but not being able to find the words to say it.
  • Loss of social inhibition is quite common if a certain area of the frontal lobe is affected. Examples include excessive swearing, sexual disinhibition, inability to empathise with people, and sometimes, urinary incontinence.
  • Loss of a sense of smell is another possible symptom.

Certain areas of the frontal lobe have specific functions. Click here to learn more about what each area does.

Frontal lobe tumours are often diagnosed late as changes can often be quite subtle or vague.

The parietal lobe

What does the parietal lobe do?

  • Interprets language and words (dominant hemisphere)
  • Sense of touch, pain, temperature
  • Interprets signals from vision, hearing, motor, sensory and memory
  • Spatial and visual perceptions (non-dominant hemisphere)

How will a tumour in the parietal lobe affect me?

Disruption of the part of your brain that regulates touch can cause numbness or a loss of sensation. Where you feel numb will depend on where your tumour is: It may be only your foot or the whole of one half of your body. Most of the time the side of your body that will be affected is the opposite side to where your tumour is. You may be less able to feel pain.

Other effects of a tumour in your parietal lobe will depend on whether your tumour is in the dominant or non-dominant hemisphere.

  • If your dominant parietal lobe is affected, you may have difficulty handwriting, reading and spelling or handling mathematics.
  • If your non-dominant parietal lobe is affected, you may find you have trouble performing skilful movements such as getting dressed.
  • The non-dominant side also controls your orientation. If this area is affected, you may feel unsteady or not able to judge distances correctly.


The temporal lobe

What does the temporal lobe do?

  • Talking and understanding speech (dominant)
  • Memory
  • Hearing
  • Sequencing and organisation

How will a tumour in the temporal lobe affect me?

If your brain tumour is in the temporal lobe, you may find you have trouble remembering things or understanding complicated things that are said to you.

Wernicke’s Area is an area of the temporal lobe responsible for the understanding of written and spoken language. When this area is affected, people often find it difficult to understand the meaning of sentences. They can often speak very fluently but what they say may not make sense and often will not be relevant at all to the conversation. This is called receptive or fluent aphasia. Aphasia is an acquired language impairment that can involve speech, reading, writing or listening.

Your primary auditory cortex allows you to be aware of sounds coming through your ears and to recognise what they are or understand what they mean. People with a tumour here will still be able to hear sounds if their ears are functioning, but they may not be able to recognise them.

The occipital lobe

What does the occipital lobe do?

Your occipetal lobe interprets visual stimuli, such as colour, light and movement.

How will a tumour in the occipital lobe affect me?

A tumour here can cause loss of vision on one side. Your occipital lobe is also in charge of visual interpretation, so some people may experience visual hallucinations.

Your optic nerves take information from your eyes all the way to your occipital lobe in the back of your brain via a very long and windy path. Your vision can be affected if your tumour puts pressure anywhere along these nerves. For this reason, a change in vision does not necessarily point to your occipital lobe. 

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