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The Temporal Lobe[edit]


The Temporal lobes are located inferior to the parietal and frontal lobes and located anterior to the occipital lobes [1]. The temporal lobes are separated from the frontal lobes and anterior areas of the parietal lobes by the sylvian fissure or lateral sulcus. The angular gyrus divides the temporal lobe from the posterior area of the parietal lobe.

The temporal lobe can be divided into three lobe sections: the superior temporal lobe, the middle temporal lobe and the inferior temporal lobe [2]. The superior temporal lobe holds the primary auditory cortex which is the area of the brain that is responsible for processing sound. The middle temporal lobe encompasses most of the lateral temporal cortex, the region that processes language, auditory and some memory information. The inferior temporal lobe corresponds to the inferior temporal gyrus (discussed later).

The temporal lobe has a lateral, a medial, a superior, and an inferior surface [3]. The Lateral surface is made up of three parallel (superior, middle and inferior) gyri separated by two sulci (superior and inferior). The sulci act as the borders and separate the three temporal lobe sections. The inferior gyrus curves onto the inferior surface of the temporal lobe and posteriorly onto the occipital lobe. The remaining gyri that make up the inferior surface are called the occipitotemporal gyrus (also known as the fusiform gyrus) and the parahippocampal gyrus. The parahippocampal gyrus then curves to form a hook called the Uncus[4].

The middle temporal surface reaches from the sylvian fissure to the parieto-occipital fissure. Within the sylvian fissure are short convultions that run mediolaterally (towards the middle of the brain) and make up the transverse temporal gyri and the Heschl’s gyrus [5]. These along with the planum polare and the planum temporale make up the superior surface of the temporal lobe.

The temporal lobe is home to the Medial Temporal Lobe which contains structures of the Limbic system including the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus [6]. The limbic system is a collection of cortical structures that are positioned in the diencephalon and telencephalon[7]. The amygdala is a component of the Limbic system [6] that can be found in the temporal lobe. The Amygdala lies just beneath the Uncus and processes emotions [7]

The Hippocampus is a scrolled structure located in the medial temporal lobe it contains the Dentate gyrus (dense layer of cells at the tip of the hippocampus) which is associated with the formation of new memories. Some components of the Olfactory Cortex (where smells are processed) are also located in the medial temporal lobe.

A well-known German psychologist Karl Wernicke, discovered that a lesion on the left temporal hemisphere left his patient unable to interpret and understand language. This area was later named the Wernicke’s area after the doctor. However, there is some speculation as to the exact location of this area.

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy[edit]

Temporal lobe epilepsy is a type of partial onset epilepsy [8] that occurs as recurrent epileptic seizures [9]. It arises in or predominantly involves the temporal lobe(s) and their components.

There are two types of Temporal Lobe epilepsy:

Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy which emanates in the hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus and the amygdala[9].

Lateral temporal lobe epilepsy which occurs in the neocortex on the lateral surface of the temporal lobe[9].


  1. ^ Staiman, K. E., (1998) Insights into temporal lobe function and its relationship to the visual system, Clinical Eye and Vision Care, 10(3) 119-124
  2. ^ Gloor, P., (1997). The Temporal Lobe and Limbic System, Oxford University Press: New York
  3. ^ Kucukyuruk, B., Richardson, M., Wen, T. W., Fernandez-Miranda, J. C., & Rhoton A. L., (2012) Microsurgical Anatomy of the Temporal Lobe and Its Implications on Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Surgery, Epilepsy Research and Treatment. doi:10.1155/2012/769825
  4. ^ Duvernoy, H., (2004). Functional Anatomy, Vascularisation and serial sections with MRI, The Human Hippocampus, Springer-Verlag: New York
  5. ^ Duvernoy, H. M., (1999) Surface, Blood Supply and Three Dimensional Sectional Anatomy, The Human Brain, Springer-Verlag: New York
  6. ^ a b Isaacson, R. L., (2003) Limbic System, eLS, doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000155
  7. ^ a b Swenson, R., (2006) The Limbic System, Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience, Retrieved from
  8. ^ Wiebe, S., Blume, W.T., Girvin, J. P., Eliasziw, M., (2001) A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Surgery for Temporal-Lobe Epilepsy, New England Journal of Medicine, 345, 311-318 doi: 10.1056/NEJM200108023450501
  9. ^ a b c Jackson, G. D., Briellmann, R. S., & Kuzniecky, R. I. (2004). Temporal lobe epilepsy. Magnetic Resonance in Epilepsy. Neuroimaging Techniques, 99-176