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What are the Temporal Lobes?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The temporal lobe is an area of the cerebral cortex, a sheet of layered neural tissue on the brain. There is one temporal lobe on the lower middle of the outside of each of the brain's two hemispheres. These lobes are responsible for auditory perception, and they play a role in speech, vision and long-term memory. Impaired temporal lobe function can lead to many difficulties for the patient.

The temporal lobes process the majority of sensory input. It is this area of the brain that helps a person learn to place pictures or words into different categories. Lesions occurring on the temporal lobes can inhibit this ability. The temporal lobes also are responsible for a person's fight-or-flight responses.

Language is somewhat influenced by the temporal lobes of the brain as well. Lesions appearing on the left temporal lobe can make the recognition of words difficult. If the lesions affect the right temporal lobe, there can be a major loss of inhibition when talking.

The temporal lobes are known to have a profound effect on memory skills. The left temporal lobe assists in remembering verbal material. The right temporal lobe helps the person recall things that have been heard or seen, such as music or art. If a lesion or other damage occurs in the temporal lobes, these skills can be diminished greatly.

Some forms of epilepsy are known to originate in the temporal lobes. Epilepsy affecting these areas of the brain can have a major impact on the personality of the person suffering from the condition. Some possible issues arising from temporal lobe epilepsy include repeating things over and over again, paranoia or even uncontrollable rage. Odd sensory perceptions also are common in temporal lobe epilepsy. The patient might have a type of hallucination that causes him or her to taste or smell something that is not really there.

In the majority of cases, this type of epilepsy is resistant to anti-seizure medications. In some cases, if the seizures originate in only one of the temporal lobes, surgery might be performed to remove the affected portion of the temporal lobe. Many patients report success with this type of surgery, often to the point of the seizures stopping completely.

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