Breaking Down the Brain Series: 4 - Temporal Lobe

 Temporal Lobe

We continue Breaking Down the Brain by looking at the Temporal Lobe.  The temporal lobes are one of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex. Structures of the limbic system, including the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and the hippocampus are located within the temporal lobes.

The temporal lobes play an important role in organizing sensory input, auditory perception, language and speech production, as well as memory association and formation.

  • The limbic system supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction.
  • The Olfactory Cortex is the sensory system used for the sense of smell.
  • The Amygdala performs a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions.
  • The Hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.*

The Functions of the Temporal Lobe include:

  • Auditory Perception
  • Memory
  • Speech
  • Emotional Respones
  • Visual Perception

Kolb & Wishaw (1990) have identified eight principle symptoms of temporal lobe damage:

1) disturbance of auditory sensation and perception,

2) disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input,

3) disorders of visual perception,

4) impaired organization and categorization of verbal material,

5) disturbance of language comprehension,

6) impaired long-term memory,

7) altered personality and affective behavior,

8) altered sexual behavior.

Again, damage to the temporal lobe from car crash, fall, assault or other event may not result in impairments of all these areas.  Often there is selective impairments to a few areas making it difficult for others to understand.  This can make relationships and socialization with others difficult. Neuropsychological testing helps medical providers identify impairments and propose treatment.

Seizures of the temporal lobe can have dramatic effects on an individual's personality. Temporal lobe epilepsy can cause perseverative speech, paranoia and aggressive rages (Blumer and Benson, 1975). Severe damage to the temporal lobes can also alter sexual behavior (e.g. increase in activity) (Blumer and Walker, 1975).

You can read more about the temporal lobes in my previous blog posts:

Changes Observed after Brain Injury

Functions Associated with Lobes of the Brain

Psychiatric Issues in Traumatic Brain Injury

Imaging and Diagnosis of Alzheimer's

* Definitions from Wikipedia

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