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The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and is responsible for all aspects of our behaviour. Researchers are still trying to understand in greater detail the numerous structures that make up the brain, and their corresponding function.

The brain has four primary lobes and the limbic system. Each lobe has a number of sub-structures with different specialised functions. The primary functions of the four lobes and the limbic system are described on this page in the colour coded boxes.

Dementia causes progressive damage to these brain regions, with the type and severity of the disease determining the degree of impairment to function and behaviour.

The brain does not exist in isolation, and it is important to understand the biological, psychological, and physical environment that provide the context for all behaviours.

Diagram showing colour coded areas of the brain

Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobe is responsible for higher cognitive functions involving planning, problem solving, starting and stopping actions and regulating social behaviour.

Damage to this region causes

  • Inability to initiate activity
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Inability to regulate mood or emotional state
  • Rude and socially inappropriate behaviour

Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe processes and integrates tactile information (touch, pressure, temperature and pain) along with information from the occipital lobe, to create an understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Damage to this region causes

  • Inability to locate and recognise objects
  • Lack of coordination
  • Disorientation

Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe plays a vital function in learning & memory, understanding language, perception and recognition.

Damage to this region causes

  • Difficulties in understanding speech, recognising faces and objects
  • Long and short term memory loss
  • Increased aggression
  • Changes to interest in sexual behaviour
  • Persistent talking.

Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobe separately encodes visual information received by the retina in the eyes into colour, orientation and movement and passes this information to the temporal and parietal lobes.

Damage to this region causes

  • Hallucinations
  • Blindness
  • Inability to see colour or motion
  • Synesthesia (eg hearing colours, tasting sounds).

Limbic System

The limbic system has a primary role in processing and regulating emotions, memory and sexual arousal.

Damage to this region causes

  • Increased agitation
  • Uncontrolled emotions
  • Disturbed day/night cycle
  • Changes to sexual arousal.

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