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What is the Occipital Lobe & What Does it do?

By Matt Lalande in Articles on September 20, 2020

What is the Occipital Lobe & What Does it do?

When it comes to the structure of the human brain, most individuals are already familiar with regions such as the cerebral cortex and the frontal lobe. The occipital lobe is a less common term; however, it has a significant impact on the function of the body and mind. It’s also a vulnerable area of the brain that could become seriously injured in an accident. 

Understanding how the occipital lobe functions is an important step in recovery if you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury. However, regardless of whether or not you have suffered a brain injury, it is important to understand how the brain works in order to ensure that it is properly functioning and processing information to the rest of the body. 

As Hamilton brain injury lawyers assisting clients with severe brain injuries throughout Ontario for over a decade, we have collected a significant amount of resources and information to help you gain a more in-depth understanding of how the brain works. In turn, this can add valuable insight into the recovery process.

What is the Occipital Lobe?

The brain contains four lobes in each side: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe – being the smallest.  See here.

Since the brain is divided into two hemispheres, each lobe has two corresponding parts.Thge occiptial lobe sits posterior to the temporal lobe and parietal lobes, underlying the occipital bone. The frontal lobe is important for cognitive functions and control of voluntary movement or activity. The parietal lobe processes information about temperature, taste, touch and movement, while the occipital lobe is primarily responsible for vision. Since it is the smallest in size, and located in the back of the head, it is the least likely region of the brain to suffer a severe injury. However, injuries to this lobe can be caused by seizures, traumatic accidents, neurological deficits, neoplastic lesions, and infections.

The Function of the Occipital Lobe

Each lobe of the brain has a specific function that works together to regulate the human body. The occipital lobe is responsible for vision. Essentially, visual information comes in through the eyes and into the occipital lobe via two streams: the ventral stream and the dorsal stream. Information in the ventral stream focuses on what the eyes are seeing, while the information in the dorsal stream focuses on where the object is situated (spatial perception). 

From there, the occipital lobe sends this information to the frontal lobe so it can be translated into the body’s consciousness. Some of the specific functions the occipital lobe controls include: 

  • Processing visual memory 
  • Interpreting and perceiving vision 
  • Spatial perception and awareness 
  • Recognition of shapes and colors 

The Occipital Lobe and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Damage to one side of your occipital lobe can cause causes the loss of vision in both eyes. Disorders of the occipital lobe can cause visual hallucinations and illusions. Where brain injuries are concerned, the specific region of the brain that suffers damage will determine the type of brain injury the individual will experience. Since it is primarily responsible for vision, a traumatic brain injury to the occipital lobe can cause issues with sight and spatial awareness.

Individuals with a traumatic brain injury at the occipital lobe may experience some of the following symptoms depending on the extent of the damage and the nature of the injury:

  • Partial or total loss of vision 
  • Inability to recognize words or numbers
  • Difficulty identifying colors or shapes 
  • Movement agnosia (difficulty recognizing an object’s movement) 
  • Loss of spatial awareness and difficulty recognizing objects within one’s environment 
  • Hallucinations or visual illusions
  • Simultanagnosia (inability to see more than one object at a time)

Due to the location of the occipital lobe, in the back of the head, rear-end car accidents carry a higher risk of injury to this area. A strong unexpected force from behind can lead to an impact that has the potential to cause catastrophic damage. Additionally, slip and falls can lead to damage in the occipital lobe due to the direction of impact.

If You or a Loved One Has Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury  We Are Here to Help 

Our Hamilton brain injury lawyers have worked with victims throughout Ontario assisting them in reaching fair settlements that can help provide financial relief during the recovery process. If you or a loved one has suffered devastating consequences due to someone else’s negligence, you are well within your rights to hold them accountable for their actions. We can help ensure your settlement is fair and provides you with the support you need to get your life back on track.

Book a free, no-obligation consultation with us to go over the details of your case and determine the best course of action for your situation. All consultations are completely confidential, and we are more than happy to travel to you if you are not feeling well enough to visit our office. Call us today nationwide at 1-844-LALANDE  or local at 905-333-8888 today.

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