Frontal Lobe Stroke

Senior woman laying in hospital bed
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The effects of a stroke differ depending on which region of the brain is involved. The brain's frontal lobe is relatively large and it controls many important functions in everyday life. A frontal lobe stroke can cause a variety of symptoms and long term effects which range from weakness to lack of motivation.

What is the Frontal Lobe?

The frontal lobes are large regions at the front of the brain that extend back towards the middle of the brain, taking up approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the cerebral cortex.

We have a left frontal lobe and a right frontal lobe. The frontal lobes are involved with movement of the opposite side of the body, speech production, regulating behavior, maintaining appropriate social inhibitions, and memory and thinking skills.

Blood Vessels

A frontal lobe stroke is caused by interruption of blood flow through any of the following arteries:

The internal carotid artery or it's branches

The middle cerebral artery or it's branches

The anterior cerebral artery or it's branches

Usually, a frontal lobe stroke involves only the left frontal lobe or the right frontal lobe because each side receives blood from arteries on it's own side.

What is a Frontal Lobe Stroke?

A frontal lobe stroke can be large or small, depending on whether interruption of blood flow occurs in a large blood vessel or in a small branch of a blood vessel. A frontal lobe stroke can be ischemic (caused by a blocked blood vessel) or hemorrhagic.

Because the frontal lobes are substantial in size, specific regions of the frontal lobe may be damaged by a stroke, while other regions are spared.  If there is a great deal of swelling or bleeding immediately after a stroke, the short term phase may be uncertain as the bleeding and swelling slowly resolves.

There are four main categories of problems that can occur after a frontal lobe stroke. Someone who has had a frontal lobe stroke may experience any combination of these effects.

Motor Problems (movement)

Weakness or paralysis is the most dramatic and noticeable effect of a frontal lobe stroke. The frontal lobe of the brain controls movement of the opposite side of the body. A stroke that causes weakness (hemiparesis) or paralysis (hemiplegia) may produce obvious arm or leg weakness, but it can also cause any of the following symptoms as well.

  • Compulsive mimicking of facial gestures made by others
  • Compulsive repetition of a movement (motor perseveration)
  • Abulia
  • Apraxia of gait
  • Urinary incontinence due to loss of muscle control

Speech and Language

There are several language areas of the brain that are located in the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe.

Language function is located on one side of the brain. The side of the brain that controls language is called the dominant side, which is the side opposite your dominant hand.

  The dominant frontal lobe controls our production of fluent speech. The understanding of language is controlled by the dominant temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. In addition to language function, there are several key differences between the left and right sides of the brain.

A dominant frontal lobe stroke affects a stroke survivor's ability to produce fluent speech, and can result in a choppy speech pattern, sometimes with normal comprehension of language. This speech pattern characteristic of a dominant sided frontal lobe stroke is called Broca’s aphasia

Thinking Skills- Cognition and Intellect

The cognitive changes after a frontal lobe stroke may be subtle. Some people who repeatedly experience several small strokes involving the frontal lobes of the brain may develop a type of dementia called vascular dementia. Characteristic cognitive changes caused by a frontal lobe stroke include the following:

  • Lack of initiative, vacillation, mood changes and inattentiveness
  • Difficulty solving problems (goal-directed behavior) in different realms of cognition including psycholinguistic, constructive, logical, and arithmetical

Behavior and Personality

Sometimes, behavioral changes may develop after a frontal lobe stroke. Some specific behavioral changes include excessive jealousy or loss of sense of humor or changes such as lack of empathy. Other common behavioral changes after a frontal lobe stroke include the following:

  • Profound lack of initiative and motivation
  • Spontaneous expression of rude or odd remarks
  • Irritability
  • Carelessness and apathy
  • Inappropriate and seemingly random persistence and repetition of certain behaviors
  • Bowel or bladder emptying when it is not socially appropriate

A Word From Verywell

A frontal lobe stroke can produce a variety of symptoms, some of which are clearly related to a stroke (weakness) and some of which can be confused with dementia. When a stroke produces weakness on one side of the body, physical rehabilitation is an essential part of recovery.

When a stroke produces dementia, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between a stroke and dementia. The medical management of the two conditions is not the same, and if you understand the differences and similarities between a stroke and dementia, it will help you know what to expect.


Emotional reactions in patients after frontal lobe stroke, Stojanović Z, Stojanović SV, Vojnosanit Pregl. 2015 Sep;72(9):770-8

Edited by Heidi Moawad MD

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