Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The temporal lobe is part of the cerebrum. It lies at the side of the brain, beneath the lateral or Sylvian fissure. Seen in profile, the human brain looks something like a boxing glove. The temporal lobe is where the thumb would be.
Behind (posterior to) the temporal lobe is the occipital lobe, where visual information first reaches the cortex. Above and to the rear is the parietal lobe. The temporal lobe encloses the hippocampus and amygdala.
The top (superior or dorsal) part of the temporal lobe includes an area (within the Sylvian fissure) where auditory signals from the cochlea (relayed via several subcortical nuclei) first reach the cerebral cortex. This part of the cortex (primary auditory cortex) is involved in hearing. Adjacent areas in the superior, posterior and lateral parts of the temporal lobe are involved in high-level auditory processing. In humans this includes speech, for which the left temporal lobe in particular seems to be specialized. Wernicke's area which spans the region between temporal and parietal lobes plays a key role (in tandem with Broca's area, which is in the frontal lobe). The functions of the left temporal lobe are not limited to low-level perception but extend to comprehension, naming, verbal memory and other language functions.
The underside (ventral) part of the temporal cortex appears to be involved in high-level visual processing of complex stimuli such as faces (fusiform gyrus) and scenes (parahippocampal cortex ). Anterior parts of this ventral stream for visual processing are involved in object perception and recognition.
The medial temporal lobe (near the sagittal plane that divides left and right cerebral hemispheres) is thought to be involved in episodic/declarative memory. Deep inside the medial temporal lobe, the hippocampus seems to be particularly important for memory function, and it also seems to play a part in controlling spatial behavior.
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