Learn About Temporal Lobes in the Cerebral Cortex

Brain Lobes
The four lobes of the brain include the frontal lobe (red), the parietal lobe (yellow), temporal lobe (green), and occipital lobe (orange). Firstsignal/Getty Images

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes are one of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex. They are located in the largest division of the brain known as the forebrain (prosencephalon). As with the three other brain lobes (frontaloccipital, and parietal), there is one temporal lobe located in each brain hemisphere. The temporal lobes play an important role in organizing sensory input, auditory perception, language and speech production, as well as memory association and formation.

Structures of the limbic system, including the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and the hippocampus are located within the temporal lobes. Damage to this area of the brain can result in problems with memory, understanding language, and maintaining emotional control.

Function

The temporal lobes are involved in several functions of the body including:

  • Auditory Perception
  • Memory
  • Speech
  • Language Comprehension
  • Emotional Responses
  • Visual Perception
  • Facial Recognition

Limbic system structures of the temporal lobe are responsible for regulating many of our emotions, as well as forming and processing memories. The amygdala controls many of the autonomic responses associated with fear. It regulates our fight or flight response, as well as helps us develop a healthy sense of fear through fear conditioning. The amygdala receives sensory information from the thalamus and other areas of the cerebral cortex.  In addition, the olfactory cortex is located in the temporal lobe.

As such, the temporal lobes are involved in organizing and processing sensory information. Another limbic system structure, the hippocampus, aids in memory formation and connecting our emotions and senses, such as smell and sound, to memories.

The temporal lobe aids in auditory processing and the perception of sound.

They are also vital to language comprehension and speech. An area of the brain called Wernicke's Area is found in the temporal lobes. This area helps us to process words and understand spoken language.

Location

Directionally, the temporal lobes are anterior to the occipital lobes and inferior to the frontal lobes and parietal lobes. A large deep groove known as the Fissure of Sylvius separates the parietal and temporal lobes.

Temporal Lobes: Damage

Damage to the temporal lobes can present a number of issues. Damage resulting from a stroke or seizure can produce an inability to understand language or to speak properly. An individual may have difficulty hearing or perceiving sound. Temporal lobe damage may also result in the development of anxiety disorders, impaired memory formation, aggressive behavior, and hallucinations.

For additional information on the temporal lobes, see: