Temporal lobes: anatomy and function

Temporal lobes: anatomy and function

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The temporal lobe is one of the four main lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brain. It is found below the lateral fissure in both cerebral hemispheres of brain mammals.

The temporal lobe folds under each half of the brain, on both sides, below the frontal and parietal lobes.

Functions of the temporal lobe

The temporal lobe is responsible for the treatment of hearing information in the ears (hearing).

It houses our ability to receive and interpret auditory information. It also collects and interprets the information that comes from the nose. It is actually the primary area of ​​the brain to deal with sensory stimuli.

An important area within the temporal lobe, known as the Wernicke area, provides us with the ability to recognize speech and interpret the meaning of words. Damage to this area, such as trauma or stroke, can lead to difficulty understanding speech and speaking meaningfully.

This area is very important for the language. Studies have shown that children begin to understand the language they hear years before they can speak, and this is largely due to the functioning of the temporal lobe.

The temporal lobe is also believed to be part of long-term memory, such as remembering autobiographical information, dates and places. Damage to this area can also cause anterograde amnesia, or the inability to create new memories.

Injuries to the temporal lobe

Injuries to the temporal lobe can cause eight types of main symptoms:

1) Impaired perception and hearing sensitivity
2) Alteration of selective attention to auditory and visual information
3) Visual perception disorders
4) Deterioration of the organization and categorization of verbal material
5) Impaired language comprehension
6) Impairment of long-term memory
7) personality and affective behavior
8) Altered sexual behavior

Suffering alterations in selective visual or auditory attention is common in people with damage to the temporal lobes.

The left side lesions of the temporal lobe they result in a decrease in memory of verbal and visual content, as well as alteration in speech perception and word recognition.

The right side injuries they cause a decrease in the recognition of tonal sequences and musical abilities. Injuries to the right side can also affect the recognition of visual content (for example, remembering faces). Other alterations that may occur are speech inhibition, loss of musical and artistic memory in general (drawing).

The temporal lobes intervene in the basic organization of sensory information. Individuals with temporal lobe lesions have difficulty distributing words or images by categories.

Epilepsy and seizures generated in the temporal lobe can have dramatic effects on the personality of an individual. Temporal lobe epilepsy can cause paranoia and attacks of rage or aggressiveness. Severe damage to the temporal lobes can also alter sexual behavior (for example, increased activity).


Carlson, N.R. (1999). Behavioral physiology. Barcelona: Ariel Psychology.

Carpenter, M.B. (1994). Neuroanatomy Fundamentals Buenos Aires: Panamerican Editorial.

Delgado, J.M .; Ferrús, A .; Mora, F .; Blonde, F.J. (eds) (1998). Neuroscience Manual. Madrid: Synthesis.

Diamond, M.C .; Scheibel, A.B. and Elson, L.M. (nineteen ninety six). The human brain Work book. Barcelona: Ariel.

Guyton, A.C. (1994) Anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. Basic Neuroscience Madrid: Pan American Medical Editorial.

Kandel, E.R .; Shwartz, J.H. and Jessell, T.M. (eds) (1997) Neuroscience and Behavior. Madrid: Prentice Hall.

Nolte, J. (1994) The human brain: introduction to functional anatomy. Madrid: Mosby-Doyma.


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