The Cerebrum

Noura Al Bistami, Randyl Rohm
  • Author
    Noura Al Bistami

    Noura has completed her MSc in Neuroscience from King's College London after receiving her BA in Psychology from the American University of Beirut. She is currently pursuing her career in Neuroscience, and has taught subjects pertaining to psychology, english literature, history, neuroscience, and neurobiology.

  • Instructor
    Randyl Rohm

    Randyl has taught college Anatomy and Physiology, Human Biology and has a master's degree in biological sciences.

Learn what is the cerebrum. Learn about the cerebrum function and the cerebrum location. Understand the structure of the cerebrum. Updated: 08/12/2021

Table of Contents



The cerebrum is the largest part of the mammalian brain, and it contains two hemispheres. Furthermore, the cerebrum contains four cerebral lobes that are important for functions of sensory perception, controlling voluntary movement, and higher cognitive functions.

The cerebrum is one part of the mammalian brain, which includes other components such as the brainstem and the cerebellum. The cerebellum is also critical in our ability to move and speak. Thus, this structure has key roles in coordinating our movements and posture, coordination, balance, and speech production.

The cerebrum shown in color, above other brain structures.

brain, cerebrum, cerebral cortex, cerebrum location, cerebrum function, cerebellum

Cerebrum Location

The cerebrum is located on the most anterior part of the mammalian brain, above the midbrain structures of the thalamus and hypothalamus. Thus, it is also known as the cerebral cortex.

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  • 0:00 What is the Cerebrum?
  • 0:35 Location
  • 1:05 Lobes and Functions
  • 2:45 Parts Within the Lobes
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Structure of Cerebrum

The cerebrum consists of two types of tissue, grey and white matter. Grey matter is composed of neural fibers and cells that are not myelinated, and it covers the surface of the cerebral cortex. Due to the high density of neurons, grey matter is associated with cognition and processing. White matter corresponds to the rest of the matter of the cerebrum, and it is mostly seen in deeper parts of the cortex. It consists of myelinated neurons and glial cells, and myelin appears as a lighter shade, thus being 'white' matter.

The external structure of the cerebrum is quite distinct and noticeable. It corresponds to a wrinkly appearance, containing grooves and depressions known as sulci (sulcus, plural) and ridges or elevations known as gyri (gyrus, singular). The presence of sulci and gyri increases the surface area of the cerebral cortex. The larger gyri are known as fissures, and they divide the main areas and lobes in the cerebrum. The two hemispheres are connected by bundles of white matter known as the corpus callosum.

Some notable sulci and gyri include:

  • Central sulcus, separating the parietal and frontal lobes.
  • Lateral sulcus, dividing the temporal lobe from the frontal and parietal lobes.
  • Precentral gyrus, the primary motor area of the frontal lobe
  • Postcentral gyrus, the primary somatosensory area of the parietal lobe

Cerebral Cortex

The cerebral cortex, or cerebrum, has four lobes.

  1. frontal lobe
  2. parietal lobe
  3. temporal lobe
  4. occipital lobe

They perform specific functions throughout the brain, such as sensory processing, voluntary movement, and learning. The cerebral cortex differentiates humans from other primates and animals, and it is not about size but the level of complexity and the number of sulci and gyri present.

The four lobes of the cerebral cortex. Blue = frontal, green = temporal, yellow = parietal, and red = occipital lobe.

cerebral cortex, cortex lobes, lobes, lobes of the cortex, cerebrum

Cerebral Hemispheres

The cerebrum is divided into two cerebral hemispheres, the right and left hemispheres, by a main fissure termed the medial longitudinal fissure. Each hemisphere controls the contralateral part of the body. Furthermore, the left hemisphere is known for processing language and mathematical skills, whereas the right is known for music and art skills.

Cerebrum Function

The cerebrum has several important functions: sensory processing, olfaction, language, communication, and learning and memory. Other functions include our ability to move around and understand who we are voluntarily.

Sensory Processing

Sensory processing takes place in several areas within the cerebrum. The most posterior lobe, the occipital lobe, is primarily associated with processing visual stimuli. The temporal lobe contains the main auditory processing area. Furthermore, the main somatosensory area lies in the parietal lobe and the primary motor area in the frontal lobe. The specialized lobes contain specific cells that process sensory stimuli and relay the information back to the frontal lobe, where we perceive the senses. Sensory processing is significant in helping us understand where we are and what our surroundings look like, thus contributing greatly to our ability to survive.


Olfaction corresponds to our sense of smell, which is part of the olfactory system. Some components include the nose, nasal cavities, olfactory epithelium, olfactory nerves, olfactory bulb, and the olfactory cortex. The olfactory epithelium lies inside the nose and contains millions of important receptors for odorants that detect odors when we sniff. Upon doing so, the receptors respond and fire signals down the olfactory system through the sensory transaction, finally arriving at the olfactory cortex in the temporal lobe.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 functions of the cerebellum?

Four main functions of the cerebellum include posture, coordination, balance, and speech. This is because the cerebellum is known for coordinating voluntary movements as well.

What is the cerebrum?

The cerebrum is the largest and most anterior part of the mammalian bran and it is divided into two hemispheres. It is further divided into the four lobes of the cerebral cortex.

Where is the cerebrum?

The cerebrum is located on the top of the mammalian brain, covering midbrain structures like the thalamus, and anterior to the brain stem and cerebellum.

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