The temporal lobe is part of the cerebral cortex. It plays a role in memory, enables people to process sound and vision, and is crucial for recognizing objects and language.
Dysfunction in the temporal lobe may cause dysfunction in the mind.
A few chronic conditions have an association with temporal lobe damage. Keep reading to learn more.
The temporal lobe is one of the four major lobes of the cortex.
The temporal lobe sits at the bottom middle portion of the brain, just behind the temples within the skull, which is also where it gets its name. It also sits above the brain stem and cerebellum.
The frontal and parietal lobes are above the temporal lobe. The occipital lobe sits just behind it.
Key structures that are part of the temporal lobe include:
- Wernicke’s area
- Broca’s area
- limbic system
These structures also span other lobes. For example, Wernicke’s area extends into the parietal lobe, and Broca’s area is part of the frontal lobe.
The function of the temporal lobe centers around auditory stimuli, memory, and emotion.
The temporal lobe contains the primary auditory complex. This is the first area responsible for interpreting information in the form of sounds from the ears.
The temporal lobe receives different frequencies, sounds, and pitches from the ears, and gives them meaning.
As part of this process, the temporal lobe is responsible for selective hearing in humans. Selective hearing helps filter out the unnecessary frequencies so that a person can focus on the important sounds from the environment.
There is a visual aspect to the temporal lobe as well. The temporal lobe helps establish object recognition, including complex objects, such as faces.
Lastly, the temporal lobe plays a role in understanding and giving meaning to language. This makes language distinguishable and understandable.
The temporal lobe is a significant part of the limbic system. The limbic system is involved with motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.
While the limbic system interacts with other areas of the brain, it works directly with the temporal lobe to influence the components of the limbic system.
The limbic system itself contains important structures, including the amygdala and hippocampus. These structures are responsible for key processes in the brain, such as memory, learning, and attention.
The temporal lobe interacting with these structures also plays a role in memory, helping to form conscious long-term memory.
Because of the connection to the limbic system, the temporal lobe contributes to a number of automatic states and bodily functions. This includes states of sexual arousal, anxiety levels, and appetite, among others.
Broca’s area is the region within the temporal lobe strongly responsible for a person’s ability to speak and use language with fluency.
Wernicke’s area is a region within the dominant side temporal lobe. It is responsible for processing and giving meaning to speech and the written word. Wernick’s area helps a person understand speech and language.
The temporal lobe plays a role in numerous functions in the brain. As such, damage in the temporal lobe may produce a wide variety of symptoms.
Damage in the temporal lobe may lead to one or more presenting symptoms. A person with damage in the temporal lobe may experience issues, including:
- impaired verbal and nonverbal memory
- impaired musical skills
- impaired speech and ability to understand speech
- impaired learning
- difficulty planning
- trouble with direction
- a state of apathy or indifference
- trouble recalling visual stimuli
- inability to recognize faces or familiar objects
- changes in hunger and thirst
- poor impulse control and addiction
- one or more types of hallucination, such as visual, auditory, or olfactory
Severe damage to the temporal lobe may potentially cause life threatening bleeding or clotting.
Additionally, there may be a link between temporal lobe damage and a few different disorders and conditions.
There may be a link between dyslexia and the temporal lobe.
Dyslexia causes a person to experience difficulty reading, as the brain has trouble giving meaning to language. The person may struggle with word or sound recognition and may have difficulty pairing certain sounds in language to their meanings.
People with dyslexia may have reduced activity in their left temporal lobes.
Learn more about dyslexia here.
Wernicke’s aphasia, or receptive aphasia, impairs a person’s ability to understand or use language. They may misuse words or speak in a way that does not make sense.
Wernicke’s aphasia often occurs in people who have had an ischemic stroke in the temporal lobe.
Learn more about Wernicke’s aphasia here.
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy is one of the common forms of partial epilepsy in adults, as a study in Imaging Brain Diseases notes. The condition causes uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that can lead to seizures.
Pick’s disease, or frontotemporal dementia, is a less common form of dementia, that damage or atrophy in the front and temporal lobe causes.
The condition may include changes to states such as mood, attention levels, or irritated or aggressive behaviors.
A person with Pick’s disease may also lose the ability to use language correctly. They may not be able to speak or recognize speech. They may also lose the ability to read or write and may experience a general loss of vocabulary.
There is a link between schizophrenia and deficit or damage in the temporal lobe, within the primary auditory cortex in the left temporal lobe.
This condition can cause some of the major symptoms of schizophrenia, including hearing external voices or other auditory hallucinations.
The temporal lobe is one of the four major lobes of the cortex. It is primarily responsible for interpreting sounds from the ears and plays a significant role in recognizing and using language.
The temporal lobe also helps with object recognition and interacts with other structures to create new and long term memories.
Dysfunction or damage in the temporal lobe may cause varying symptoms throughout the body, including memory impairments, changes in the emotional state, and hallucinations.
Quick detection and treatment of any damage in these areas are crucial to help give the best outlook.