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The Brain and Learning

Explore the external and internal regions of the brain. Learn about the brain functions associated with each region.

Brain Anatomy

Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobes serve a number of important roles in behavior, including planning and initiating movements, social and emotional processing, and attention. The frontal lobes are also involved in working memory as well as the ability to retrieve and store memories.

Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobes are responsible primarily for visual perception, and participate in some forms of visual short term memory.

Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobes are involved in sensing touch, as well as the spatial processing, language and memory.  In particular, the right parietal lobe is important for attention and non-verbal memory, whereas the left parietal lobe is important for language and verbal memory. 

Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobes are important for processing sound, as well as the ability to recognize and understand words and language. The temporal lobes are also involved in visual memory, allowing us to recognize our favorite chair or best friend’s face.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is important for our ability to learn and perform skilled, coordinated movements like those used when, riding a bike, and also plays a role in attention.

Basal Ganglia

The Basal Ganglia are involved in initiating voluntary movements, and are involved in the ability to learn particular sequences of movement (such as those needed to type).

Amygdala

The amygdalae are involved in emotional processing, including the ability to recognize certain facial emotions (especially fear), and play a role in the formation of emotional memories. 

Hippocampus

The hippocampus is critical to the formation of new long-term memories, especially our ability to remember personal information and learn new facts.  The hippocampus also acts as a sort of internal “map” that allows us to navigate through our environment.  It acts in a wide range of different types of memory including declarative (remembering facts), episodic (remembering past personal events) and relational (the ability to make associations between information).

Pons

The pons is part of the brainstem, and is plays a role in controlling sleep, respiratory function, hearing, as well as motor control and touch in the region of the face.

Midbrain

The midbrain is part of the brainstem, and plays a primary role in sleep, arousal and temperature regulation, and motor control.

Medulla Oblongata

The medulla is part of the brainstem, and plays a major role in controlling cardiac and respiratory function.

Together, these structures form the brainstem, and are responsible for controlling the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as regulating alertness and sensitivity to pain.

Thalamus

The thalamus is the main relay through which incoming sensory information passes before being sent to the cerebral cortex, and also helps regulate alertness and sleep.

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling hunger, thirst, sleep and body temperature through the release of hormones, in conjunction with the pituitary gland.

Pituitary Gland

The pituitary sits below the hypothalamus, and is the primary hormone secreting structure in the brain. In conjunction with the hypothalamus, it is responsible for controlling hunger, thirst, sleep, and body temperature.

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