The highest evolved species of all, on planet earth, are considered to be humans. What makes us humans get this honor among other animals is the gift of complex thinking and coordination of various body systems. This gift is useful because we have a highly evolved brain that observes and reacts according to various situations and actions.
The human brain is like a supercomputer that processes information and gives out stimulus to act and react before you can say 'Cheese'. The brain is subdivided into different parts, each having a unique function.
The functions of this lobe are just a part of the main chip, the brain. In the following paragraphs, we shall focus on the occipital lobe exclusively.
The occipital lobe is located behind the parietal lobe on the top of a membrane that helps in separating it from cerebellum. It is the smallest of all lobes of the brain and placed right at the back of your head. It has no clear borders, and the primary function of this organ is imparting vision. The occipital lobe is divided into two lobes on the right and left side that corresponds to the right and left brain hemispheres.
The primary function of the occipital lobe is controlling vision and visual processing. This organ helps us see and identify different things that we look at. It also helps us differentiate and understand distinct colors. As soon as a baby is born, this lobe begins to function. The visual stimuli received by the infant's eye is sent over to the occipital lobe that helps the baby interpret the vision. As the infant grows, his/her vision becomes more and more acute, and the ability to understand various images by this organ also increases.
The function of occipital lobe is not just limited to visual recognition. Its function also includes the ability to understand and differentiate between different shapes. If the brain did not process the various shapes that we see, we will not be able understand the geometry of shapes. This would also make it impossible for one to understand various letters as one would not be able to interpret or distinguish between the different shapes.
The occipital lobe also points towards brain injury or brain disorders. If the brain suffers from damage, injury, or illness, it will affect the vision of the person. A brain disorder called occipital lobe epilepsy affects the occipital lobe of the brain. This condition leads to hallucinations and even seeing the same image repetitively. It may even cause uncontrollable blinking and involuntary movements of the eye. In some cases, it may lead to severe eye pain, seizures, and even blindness. This condition is, however, treatable by medical intervention.
In case a person is hit by an object at the back of the head due to an accident or suffers from traumatic brain injury, he may suffer from irreparable damage to the occipital lobe. This may cause vision problems, hallucinations, and failure to interpret the visual stimuli. It may also lead to complete blindness or change in vision.
The functions of this lobe are divided according to several visual areas. These areas are not anatomically distinguishable but are mapped by physiologists using electrode recordings. The primary visual cortex is the first functional brain region related to the occipital lobe. The functions include description, color properties, local orientation, etc., within a small receptive field.
The functions of the occipital lobe may have a hand in the origination of the popular phrase 'eyes at the back of the head.'