What You Need to Know About the Frontal Lobe

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 05, 2023
3 min read

Your brain has four lobes that each control different functions. The parietal lobe processes input from your senses of taste and touch. The occipital lobe processes things you see and records the information to memory. The temporal lobe processes information from your senses of smell, taste, and sound. It also helps with storing your memories.‌

The frontal lobe of the brain controls:

  • Thinking
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Problem-solving
  • Short-term memory‌
  • Movement

The frontal lobe is the largest of the four lobes and sits behind your nasal cavity, extending behind your ears. The lobe has many different parts that control functions in your body, including:

  • Body movements on the opposite side of your body
  • Eye movements on the opposite side of your body
  • Smooth motor movements‌
  • Motor language 

Your frontal lobe has a dominant side — either left or right — that controls language and speech. This is different for each person, but most people store language and speech on the left side of their brain. You may store language and speech on the right side of your brain if you are left-handed or sustain an injury to the left side of your brain early in life.

Language encompasses:

  • Semantics or meaning — understanding the differences in words that sound the same
  • Developing new words — using one base word to make new words
  • Grammar — creating the appropriate sentence structure
  • Social context — using language that is appropriate for the setting, like home versus school

Speech encompasses:

  • Articulation — sounding out words correctly
  • Voice — using your vocal cords to adjust the sound and tone of your voice‌
  • Fluency — using proper rhythm and tone to convey feeling

The frontal lobe stores how you use language, and it also processes how you interpret language. You may have a language disorder if you have difficulty understanding other peoples’ speech or explaining your own ideas, thoughts, or feelings. You may have a speech disorder if you struggle to use the correct word sounds or rhythm of speech.‌

There are three specific areas in the brain that control language and speech:

  • Broca’s area — This portion of the brain is in your brain’s left hemisphere. It produces speech and helps you with articulation. 
  • Wernicke’s area — This portion of the brain is in the posterior superior temporal lobe and contributes to your comprehension of language. This includes what you hear and what you read.‌
  • Angular gyrus — This portion of the brain is near the parietal lobe. It helps process senses that contribute to understanding language as you associate it with images in your mind. ‌

Motor movements. The frontal lobe also helps control your voluntary motor movements. Each side of the frontal lobe controls the opposite side of your body. Cortical neurons radiate to your brain stem and down your spinal cord, telling your body what movement to complete. This includes accurately coordinating movements with correct position and timing.

Seizures. Some seizure disorders are caused by damage to — or a malformation in — the brain's frontal lobe. Seizures impact your motor abilities and speech. Your doctor will assess your seizures and determine which region of your frontal lobe may be impacted.

Personality and social skills. Because the frontal lobe is large and in the front of your skull, it is susceptible to damage. Any damage may contribute to changes in your social behavior. Damage may impact your spatial orientation and coordination of your facial muscles.