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Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe is a region of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex that is located beneath the Sylvian fissure on both cerebral hemispheres of the mammalian brain. The temporal lobe is involved in auditory perception and is home to the primary auditory cortex. It is also important for the processing of semantics in both speech and vision. Structures of the limbic system, including the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and the hippo-campus are located within the temporal lobes. The superior temporal gyrus includes an area (within the Sylvian fissure) where auditory signals from the cochlea (relayed via several sub-cortical nuclei) first reach the cerebral cortex. This part of the cortex (primary auditory cortex) is involved in hearing. Adjacent areas in the superior, posterior and lateral parts of the temporal lobes are involved in high-level auditory processing. In humans this includes speech, for which the left temporal lobe in particular seems to be specialized. Wernicke's area, which spans the region between temporal and parietal lobes, plays a key role (in tandem with Broca's area, which is in the frontal lobe). The functions of the left temporal lobe are not limited to low-level perception but extend to comprehension, naming, verbal memory and other language functions. The underside (ventral) part of the temporal cortices appear to be involved in high-level visual processing of complex stimuli such as faces (fusiform gyrus) and scenes (parahippocampal gyrus). Anterior parts of this ventral stream for visual processing are involved in object perception and recognition. The medial temporal lobes (near the Sagittal plane that divides left and right cerebral hemispheres) are thought to be involved in episodic/declarative memory. Deep inside the medial temporal lobes lie the hippocampi, which are essential for memory function – particularly the transference from short to long term memory and control of spatial memory and behavior. Damage to this area typically results in anterograde amnesia.