Temporal Lobe - Lateral View - Health Literacy Hub

5 Most Common Questions About The Temporal Lobe And More

The temporal lobe of the brain is often referred to as the neocortex, and is the second largest of the brain lobes. As per other brain regions, the temporal lobe plays a critical role in our cognitive functions; therefore, in the next paragraph, we start by answering some common questions about this brain region.

Where is the temporal lobe located?

The temporal lobe is located at the bottom of the brain, behind the ears and the temples from which it gets the name. Each right temporal lobe and left temporal lobe interacts above with the parietal lobes, frontally with the frontal lobes, and posteriorly with the occipital lobes.

What are the characteristic features of the temporal lobe?

Three main gyri, or fold, are observed in the temporal lobe: a superior temporal gyrus, a medial temporal lobe, and an inferior temporal gyrus. The sulcus separating the superior temporal gyrus and the medial temporal gyrus is known as the superior temporal sulcus and has a pivotal role in social cognition.

What are the main functions of the temporal lobe?

The main temporal lobe function is around visual and auditory processing. This brain region aids in processing auditory information, understanding language, learning verbal information, integrating and retaining visual memories of people or events from the past (also known as episodic memory), performing spatial reasoning, and processing emotions.

What main structures are comprised within the temporal lobe?

The temporal lobe houses the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus and the amygdala. The hippocampus is involved in learning and memory by processing and retaining verbal and visual content, and the amygdala is responsible for the processing of emotional behaviours such as the “fight or flight” response.

What are the effects of temporal lobe damage?

Temporal lobe excision or severe temporal lobe seizures have serious effects on patients and their bodily functions because most human activities rely on memory, emotions, and sensory input. Severe damage to a person’s temporal lobe leads to impaired memory skills, severe difficulties in speech perception and language comprehension (receptive aphasia), visual perception and object recognition, auditory hallucinations, poor impulse control, and various issues of personality and sexual behavior.

the occipital lobe and posterior to the frontal lobe. It interacts with all the regions of the brain. The temporal lobe helps in processing input including auditory and pain stimuli. This lobe helps in retaining memory, processing emotions, and understanding language.

Temporal lobe of the left hemisphere. Image by Anatomography

Structure

The temporal lobe forms the cerebral cortex in conjunction with the occipital lobe, the parietal lobe, and the frontal lobe. It is located mainly in the middle cranial fossa, a space located close to the skull base. It is anterior to the occipital lobe and posterior to the frontal lobe. It is located in the forebrain just inferior to the lateral fissure, also known as the Sylvian fissure or the lateral sulcus. The temporal lobe subdivides further into the superior temporal lobe, the middle temporal lobe, and the inferior temporal lobe. It houses several critical brain structures including the hippocampus and the amygdala. It is the second-largest lobe anterior to the occipital lobe and posterior to the frontal lobe. It interacts with all the regions of the brain. The temporal lobe helps in processing input including auditory and pain stimuli. This lobe is involved in a number of cognitive functions: it helps in retaining memory, processing emotions, and understanding language.

The temporal lobe is composed of White Matter. It also constitutes part of the lateral ventricles as it lies above the temporal bone. It consists of :

  • Stria terminalis
  • The Amygdala
  • the Hippocampal formation
  • the tail of the caudate nucleus

The temporal lope occupies the anterior area inferior to the lateral sulcus. The middle cranial fossa forms its anterior boundary.  The lateral surface of the temporal lobe is divided into three gyri by two sulci. The superior and middle temporal sulci run parallel to the posterior ramus of the lateral sulcus and divide the lobe into superior, middle, and inferior temporal gyri. The inferior temporal gyrus is continued onto the inferior surface of the hemisphere. The temporal lobe contains some important structures i.e limbic area, Broca’s area, and Wernicke’s area.

Lymbic system

It is also known as the paleomammalian cortex and has a complex set of structures; the hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus lying beneath the medial temporal lobe.

The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain located below the thalamus and is responsible for homeostasis. It regulates the function of the autonomic nervous system. The hippocampus contains two horns. It is responsible for transmitting short-term memory into long-term memory.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped set of neurons present on each side of the thalamus.

Other structures include the cingulate gyrus, basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, and basal tegmental area.

Broca’s Area

Broca’s area fabricates in the inferior frontal gyrus. It is responsible for one’s ability to speak. It aids communication with the Wernicke’s area.

Wernicke’s area

This area is located in the left posterior superior temporal gyrus. This helps in the comprehension of speech.

Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the cerebral cortex. Image by the Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014

Function

The temporal lobe helps in the processing of auditory stimuli. It perceives, remembers, and assigns meaning to the sound. It is responsible for selective hearing that helps out filtering unnecessary sounds.  It produces long-term memories. It has a ventral lobe that helps in recognizing objects and understanding body language. It helps in the production of speech. The temporal lobe has an auditory cortex which helps in understanding, hearing, and meaning of the speech. Without the temporal lobe, one cannot recognize objects and language. It helps in maintaining homeostasis and other autonomic functions i.e hunger, thirst, anxiety, arousal.

Vascular Supply

The temporal lobe receives its supply from the internal carotid system and vertebrobasilar artery. The internal carotid system contains the middle cerebral artery and anterior choroidal artery. The anterior choroidal artery supplies the amygdala while the middle cerebral artery supplies the temporal lobe and superior and inferior portion of the temporal gyri. the vertebrobasilar artery supplies the inferior pole of the temporal lobe. The venous supply consisted of the middle cerebral vein and posterior choroidal vein. The deep cervical nodes are the destination of lymph drainage from the head and neck. The right and left jugular trunk drain into the right lymphatic duct and thoracic duct respectively.

Associated disorders

Temporal lobe epilepsy

It is one of the common forms of partial epilepsy in adults. Uncontrolled electrical activity leads to seizures. There are two types of temporal lobe epilepsy: mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and lateral temporal lobe epilepsy. Middle temporal lobe epilepsy involves the internal structures while lateral temporal lobe epilepsy involves the outer part of the brain. Focal seizures are types of seizures occurring in this.

Aphasia

It is described as a disorder of speech or language, Damage to Wernicke’s area can cause aphasia. It occurs in those patients who have an ischemic stroke.

Impaired memory

Disturbance of visual and auditory input selection leads to impairment of short-term memory. The person is unable to convert short-term memory into long-term memory. He is unable to recognize faces and objects.

Disorders of auditory perception

Discriminating speech and impaired sound is associated with a lesion in the left superior temporal gyrus.

Personality changes

Loss of autobiographical memory leads to a change in personality

Changes in executive function

Unable to coordinate their actions because of damage to the temporal lobe.

Dyslexia

The person suffers from difficulty in reading and sound recognition. They have reduced activity in their temporal lobes.

Pick’s disease

These lesions occur in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Changes in mood and behaviour are associated with this disease.

Visual field defects

Temporal lobe lesions can sometimes with visual field defects due to superior quadrant loss.

Changes in autonomic nervous system function

Any change in thirst, hunger, appetite, arousal, sexual desire can affect brain function and overall health.

References
  1. Squire LR, Stark CE, Clark RE. The medial temporal lobe. Annu. Rev. Neurosci.. 2004 Jul 21;27:279-306.
  2. Engel Jr J. Introduction to temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy research. 1996 Dec 1;26(1):141-50.
  3. Kimura D. Some effects of temporal-lobe damage on auditory perception. Canadian Journal of Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie. 1961;15(3):156.
  4. Squire LR, Zola-Morgan S. The medial temporal lobe memory system. Science. 1991 Sep 20;253(5026):1380-6.
  5. OGDEN CE. The auditory evoked middle latency response in subjects with temporal lobe seizure activity as compared to neurologically normal subjects and subjects with generalized seizure activity. University of Cincinnati; 1986.
  6. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Temporal_Lobe
  7. https://www.spinalcord.com/temporal-lobe
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519512/
  9. https://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/limbicsystem.html
  10. https://patient.info/doctor/temporal-lobe-lesions-pro


The content shared on the Health Literacy Hub website is provided for informational purposes only and it is not intended to replace advice, diagnosis, or treatment offered by qualified medical professionals in your State or Country. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information provided with other sources and to seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner with any question they may have regarding their health. The Health Literacy Hub is not liable for any direct or indirect consequence arising from the application of the material provided.

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