What is the Temporal Lobe? Duties

Our cerebral cortex consists of two hemispheres. Each of the right and left hemispheres is examined in the lower part called four lobes. These are the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. Under the slit called the lateral fissure in the cortex, there is the temporal lobe in the temporal region near the ear. It is a region responsible for visual memory, language comprehension, hearing, pain, emotional association processes, and many other functions. Temporal lobe damage can affect and impair almost all functions of the body. Because most of what we do as human beings is related to the perception of the senses and emotions.

The temporal lobe is not a stand-alone organ. It is in contact with other brain regions and with the body through the spinal cord. Although the temporal lobe of each brain has similar anatomical features, the events taking place in the temporal lobe create the individual’s unique emotions and experiences.

What Does the Temporal Lobe Do?

It has a critical role in the processing of the sense of hearing, as it may suggest that it is located close to the temples. It provides the perception of sounds, giving meaning to these sounds and remembering the sounds. The vocal process takes place mainly in the cerebral fold called the superior temporal gyrus. This is where it receives sensory input directly from the ear.

It enables the creation of visual memory, including long-term memory. It takes part in the formation of conscious memory together with the hippocampus and amygdala, two important structures of the limbic system .

Interprets the meaning of visual stimuli such as recognizing objects. Just seeing an object is not enough. For vision to work, one must understand what one sees. The anterior (ventral) part of the temporal lobe helps make sense of the images we see every day. Without this part, it would be impossible to recognize faces and body language.

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The temporal lobe also aids in speech. Damage to this area of ​​the brain can lead to speech difficulties, even if the person can consciously think about what they want to say and other structures are intact.

Language recognition also takes place in the temporal lobe. The auditory cortex is the most important region for hearing and understanding speech. Other areas in the temporal lobe also aid in understanding language. Without the temporal lobe, naming objects, remembering speech, or recognizing language would not be possible.

It controls unconscious and automatic responses such as appetite and thirst. It helps to maintain the balance of the body (homeostasis).

Some Important Areas in the Temporal Lobe

  • Limbic lobe: This region is actually located at the intersection of several lobes, but is directly related to the temporal lobe. It controls automatic emotional reactions such as the fight-or-flight response. The limbic lobe contains the hippocampus and amygdala, which are structures important for memory, learning, and attention. It controls unconscious emotional states such as appetite, sexual desire, and some automatic bodily functions.
  • Wernicke’s area: It is a region associated with speech understanding.
  • Broca’s area: Helps to carry out speech. It is an important place in communication with the Wernicke area.

What Happens in Temporal Lobe Injury?

Because the temporal lobe has many tasks, its damage can have devastating effects. Serious consequences, which can lead to death, can be seen in severe damage due to brain hemorrhage , clot formation or trauma.

The location, degree and subsequent medical treatment of the injury affect the results. For example, early recognition and intervention in an injury caused by a brain tumor can be overcome with less damage. Afterwards, a good recovery can be seen with treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. However, it is not possible to know for certain how the temporal lobe damage will result and how much it will heal. Some people with minor damage to Broca’s area lose the ability to speak completely, while those with much larger damage may be less affected. Some people recover spontaneously after a temporal lobe injury, while others may not improve despite treatment. There are exceptions to every rule when it comes to the brain.

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Temporal lobe damage can lead to:

  • temporal lobe epilepsy, seizure
  • Aphasia (speech and language disorder)
  • Memory impairment, inability to recognize people, faces, or objects, impaired long-term memory, forgetting memories of oneself, worsening auditory memory
  • Personality change, impaired communication with other people, difficulty controlling emotions
  • Changes in self and one’s self-perception
  • Changes in automatic behaviors such as hunger, thirst, appetite, sexual desire
  • Difficulty making decisions and planning their actions
  • Difficulty recognizing the environment and finding direction

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