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Stroke Education
The Brain

The Stroke Network
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Abingdon,  MD 21009





The cerebrum or cortex is the largest part of the brain.  It is associated with higher brain function such as thought and action.

The entire cerebrum is made up of two layers. The outermost layer is called the cerebral cortex, or gray matter. It is gray because nerves in this area lack the insulation that makes most other parts of the brain appear to be white.

The cerebral cortex is 0.079 to 0.157 inches thick. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.

The inner layer, called cortex is deeply wrinkled and three of the deepest folds are used to divide each hemisphere into four distinct sections called lobes. 


A deep furrow divides the cerebrum into two halves, known as the left and right hemispheres. The two hemispheres look mostly symmetrical yet it has been shown that each side functions slightly different than the other. The right hemisphere is usually associated with creativity and the left hemisphere is associated with logic abilities.

Right hemisphere


bullet Artistic Capabilities
bullet Music
bullet Awareness of art
bullet Insight
bullet Ability to Understand Spatial Relations
bullet Ability to Recognize Faces
bullet Ability to Focus Attention

Left hemisphere


bullet Scientific Capabilities
bullet Ability to Work with Numbers
bullet Ability to Reason
bullet Ability to Understand the Spoken Language
bullet Ability to Understand the Written Word

Frontal Lobe

Located at the front of the brain stretching roughly from one side of the temple to the other side of the temple. At the back of the frontal lobe, near the central sulcus, lies the motor cortex. This area of the brain receives information from various lobes of the brain and utilizes this information to carry out body movements.

In each hemisphere, the frontal lobe is responsible for movement (motor functions), decision making and executive control (selection and co-ordination of goal-directed behaviors).


bullet Emotions
bullet Personality
bullet Problem solving
bullet Sexual and social behavior
bullet Judgment
bullet Language
bullet Problem solving abilities  

Stroke on the right side of the frontal lobe will affect your ability to move the left side of your body, and vice versa. Damage to the frontal lobe (usually on the left hemisphere) can cause Broca's aphasia and you can find it difficult to speak in complete sentences.

Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe controls hearing and memory and is also involved with auditory perception. Located around the ears on both sides of the head and stops just before the rounding of the back of the skull. The hippocampus is also located in the temporal lobe, which is why this portion of the brain is also heavily associated with the formation of memories.


bullet Auditory interpretation
bullet Speech and visual processing
bullet Spatial memory
bullet Short-term memory
bullet Long-term memory  

Memories are stored in the inner part of the temporal lobe. Unless both the left and right lobes are damaged, memory loss after stroke is usually temporary.

The temporal lobe of the dominant hemisphere (usually the left) can cause a speech disorder known as Wernicke’s aphasia. People with Wernicke's aphasia (fluent aphasia) may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, or with unnecessary and made-up words.

Parietal Lobe

Located behind the frontal lobe and above the temporal lobe.  A portion of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex is located in this lobe and is essential to the processing of the body's senses.

It is concerned mainly with sensory activities, such as receiving and interpreting information from all parts of the body, including where your body is positioned in physical space.


bullet Sensory information
bullet Spatial sense
bullet Solving mathematic problems
bullet Reading
bullet Writing  

Stroke on the right hemisphere can cause agnosia, which means you can feel, see and hear, but may not be able to understand what you are perceiving. In other cases, a condition called neglect may develop, which means you may lack awareness of one side of your body. Neglect can impair many self care skills, such as dressing and washing.

Occipital Lobe

Located at the back portion of the brain. The primary visual cortex, which receives and interprets information from the retinas of the eyes, is located in this lobe.  The occipital lobe is responsible for vision.


bullet Interprets visual stimuli
bullet Visual problems
bullet Difficulty recognizing objects
bullet Inability to identify colors
bullet Trouble recognizing words.

Stroke may result in vision loss on the opposite side. Although the eye is functioning normally, the brain is unable to process information from that eye.

Stroke Warning Signs

bullet Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body   
bullet Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding   
bullet Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes   
bullet Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination   
bullet Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

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Original date 3/1/96 Revised 9/24/14