kids encyclopedia robot

Occipital lobe facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Brain: Occipital lobe
Quick facts for kids
Lobes of the human brain (the occipital lobe is shown in red)
Gray727 occipital lobe.png
Medial surface of left cerebral hemisphere. (cuneus and lingual gyrus are at left.)
Latin lobus occipitalis
Part of cerebrum
Artery posterior cerebral artery

The occipital lobe is the back part of a mammal's brain.

The occipital lobe is the visual processing center of the mammalian brain containing most of the anatomical region of the visual cortex. The primary visual cortex is Brodmann area 17, commonly called V1 (visual one).

Damage to the primary visual areas of the occipital lobe can cause partial or complete blindness.


Gyri of lateral cortex
Diagram of gyri of brain viewed on lateral hemisphere. Occipital gyri shown lower right
Occipital lobe animation small
Animation. Occipital lobe (red) of left cerebral hemisphere.

The two occipital lobes are the smallest of four paired lobes in the human brain. Located in the rearmost portion of the skull, the occipital lobes are part of the posterior cerebrum. The lobes of the brain are named from the overlying bone and the occipital bone overlies the occipital lobes.

The lobes rest on the tentorium cerebelli, a process of dura mater that separates the cerebrum from the cerebellum. They are structurally isolated in their respective cerebral hemispheres by the separation of the cerebral fissure. At the front edge of the occipital lobe are several occipital gyri, which are separated by lateral occipital sulcus.

The occipital aspects along the inside face of each hemisphere are divided by the calcarine sulcus. Above the medial, Y-shaped sulcus lies the cuneus, and the area below the sulcus is the lingual gyrus.


The occipital lobe is divided into several functional visual areas. Each visual area contains a full map of the visual world.

The first functional area is the primary visual cortex. It contains a low-level description of the local orientation, spatial-frequency and color properties within small receptive fields. Primary visual cortex projects to the occipital areas of the ventral stream (visual area V2 and visual area V4), and the occipital areas of the dorsal stream—visual area V3, visual area MT (V5), and the dorsomedial area (DM).

The ventral stream is known for the processing the "what" in vision, while the dorsal stream handles the "where/how." This is because the ventral stream provides important information for the identification of stimuli that are stored in memory. With this information in memory, the dorsal stream is able to focus on motor actions in response to the outside stimuli.

A significant functional aspect of the occipital lobe is that it contains the primary visual cortex.

Retinal sensors convey stimuli through the optic tracts to the lateral geniculate bodies, where optic radiations continue to the visual cortex. Each visual cortex receives raw sensory information from the outside half of the retina on the same side of the head and from the inside half of the retina on the other side of the head. The cuneus (Brodmann's area 17) receives visual information from the contralateral superior retina representing the inferior visual field. The lingula receives information from the contralateral inferior retina representing the superior visual field. The retinal inputs pass through a "way station" in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus before projecting to the cortex. Cells on the posterior aspect of the occipital lobes' gray matter are arranged as a spatial map of the retinal field. Functional neuroimaging reveals similar patterns of response in cortical tissue of the lobes when the retinal fields are exposed to a strong pattern.

Images for kids

kids search engine
Occipital lobe Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.