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What do the occipital lobes do?

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Quick Answer

The occipital lobes, located at the rear of the brain, processes visual information, as shown on the National Institutes of Health website. Although the occipital lobe is responsible for handling the bulk of the visual information coming to the brain, the posterior portions of the parietal and temporal lobes also participate in processing visual images, according to About.com.

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The primary visual cortex, which resides in the occipital lobe, receives images directly from the retina before passing them on to the occipital lobe for interpretation. Humans also use the occipital lobe when trying to distinguish between different colors.

A 1997 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience investigated the differences in the size of the occipital lobe from one person to the next. The researchers found that the size varied significantly, which led the authors to suggest that these variations in size may lead to large differences in the visual abilities of different humans.

The brain has three other main groups of lobes that are essential to the human body. These lobes include the frontal lobes, the parietal lobes and the temporal lobes. These lobes control emotions, hearing language, movement, problem solving and sensory information, among other feelings and functions.

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