Occipital Lobe: Definition, Location & Function

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  • 0:00 Introduction to the Brain
  • 0:35 Location & Function of…
  • 1:35 Damage to the Occipital Lobe
  • 2:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
The cerebrum is the largest portion of the brain and is responsible for multiple bodily functions. The occipital lobe of the cerebrum is a major structural region. This article discusses the location and function of this key region of the cerebrum.

Introduction to the Brain

The brain is the primary structure of the nervous system. It's responsible for directing and controlling multiple aspects of our bodily functions. The largest region of the brain is the cerebrum, and it's the part responsible for personality, thinking, and sensory interpretation. Multiple lobes exist in the cerebrum, and these lobes have specific functions as it relates to the senses.

Sensory information is necessary to perceive changes in the world around us, and different sections of the cerebrum will be responsible for receiving information from different senses. The following sections will discuss the occipital lobe and its primary function: the processing of vision and visual information.

Location and Function of the Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobe is located in the posterior (back region) of the cerebrum, superior to (above) the cerebellum. It's protected by cranial bones, with the primary protective bone being the occipital bone. The occipital lobe is also divided into right and left halves, as is the entire cerebrum.

The occipital lobe houses the primary visual cortices. These are the portions of the cerebrum that receive visual information from the eyes and the optic nerve and organize it into images that the brain can recognize. This includes the ability to determine spatial organization, like a three-dimensional map of the objects in the visual field. The primary cortex, then, is necessary for the interpretation of vision for the purposes of cognitive or mental awareness. Since the brain is divided into halves, the left and right halves of the occipital lobe each have a primary visual cortex.

Damage to the Occipital Lobe

One of the best ways to understand the visual function of the occipital lobe is to discuss what happens when it's damaged. For example, whenever someone experiences a concussion through blunt force to the head, one key symptom is blurry vision. Many concussions cause damage to the occipital lobe, and although it may be temporary, it will distort vision.

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