temporal lobe, brain temporal lobe

The Temporal Lobe 

The temporal lobe is largely responsible for creating and preserving both conscious and long-term memory. It plays a role in visual and sound processing and is crucial for both object recognition and language recognition. For example, when we hear sounds, the temporal lobe will make useful information out of it, allowing us to understand a variety of words and sounds that become stored as memories. It also processes and allows you to understand what you are seeing and the complex aspects of visual information such as recognizing faces  (e.g., family members or celebrity) or identifying objects. Additionally, it contributes to our emotional and behavioral responses. 

The temporal lobe plays an important role in expressive and receptive language (e.g., written or spoken). Expressive language is the ability to express your thoughts. Examples include speaking with your friends, writing a letter, or any other form of communication. A specialized area called Wernicke’s area, is located on the left temporal lobe and is responsible for understanding speech, also known as receptive language. Receptive language is understanding information you are receiving. For example, understanding the verbal directions you are given from a teacher.  

It also processes different types of memories such as long-term memory, which includes a special type of memory called declarative memory, auditory, and visual, and a role in olfactory memory. Below is a list of the different types of memories and examples: 

Type of Memory  Definition  Examples 
Long Term Memory 


A memory that becomes stored for a long period of time and is easy to retrieve (e.g., your phone number)  Your address 

Your sibling’s birthday 

Episodic Memory  

(This is a type of long term memory) 

Memories based on personal facts and events.  Remember your high school graduation year 


Remembering your best friend was in high school 

Semantic Memory (This is a type of long term memory)  Recalling learned information such as general events and facts.  Remembering that Christmas day is on December 25th. 
Visual Memory  Recalling information you have seen.  Copying letters or numbers 

Remembering phone numbers 

Auditory Memory  Recalling information you have heard.  Remembering a conversation 
Olfactory Memory  Recalling a scent you have smelled. 


Closely linked to our emotional memories 

Remembering a scent of a pine tree 


A pine tree might also make a person remember a Christmas memory 


The temporal lobe also plays a role in processing our emotional and motivational behaviors. However, emotional and motivational behaviors are part of a more specialized structure of our brain called the limbic system located beneath the temporal lobe. 

Lesions to the temporal lobe includes the following: 

Diagnosis / Deficit  Definition  Strategies 
Agnosia  Inability to recognize information such as objects or faces  Performing tasks in a predictable environment 

(e.g., placing clothing in the same location every morning) 


Follow a consistent routine as much as possible 


Adapt the environment with the most commonly used items in sight. Declutter irrelevant items 


Look for clues, or differences in faces, such as a birthmark 

Long term memory   A memory that becomes stored for a long period of time and is easy to retrieve (e.g., your phone number)  Using a desk calendar or phone calendar (make it a habit to check it every morning and glance at it throughout the day) 


Setting reminders on your phone. 


Setting alarms on your phone. 


Writing notes on post it notes and please them on visible areas such as your laptop 


Using a dry erase board in room or on your refrigerator for important information 



Declarative memory  


(Examples very similar to long term memory) 

Memories based on facts and events 
Semantic memory  A form of long-term memory to recall information we have learned throughout our lives. Plays a vital role in language. Includes remembering names, numbers, words, and general facts 
Attention   Limiting visual distractions background noise in the environment 


Taking breaks often to help with attention span 

Aggressive behaviors  Verbal, characterized by anger or physical aggression  Minimize confusion 

(Use short simple words) 


Utilizing coping strategies  

(Deep breathing exercises meditation. Videos can be found on online such as Youtube) 


Journaling to discover triggers before experiencing anger 


Practicing counting down from 10 before reacting 


Walking away from the situation 


Listening to music to increase mood 


Aroma therapy (such as lavender oil) or weighted blankets to decrease any anxiety 


Keep the environment safe! 

Hallucinations  A sensory experience in which a person can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something that is not there  Engage in deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques as soon as the hallucinations begin 


Making sure you are taking medication as prescribed 


Abstaining from alcohol or substances 


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help change the way an individual responds to a hallucination 


Getting plenty of sleep 



Binder J. R. (2015). The Wernicke area: Modern evidence and a reinterpretation. Neurology85(24), 2170–2175. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000002219 

Jeneson, A., & Squire, L. R. (2011). Working memory, long-term memory, and medial temporal lobe function. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.)19(1), 15–25. https://doi.org/10.1101/lm.024018.111 

Kalat, J. W. (2017). Biological Psychology. Cengage 

Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al., editors. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. Lesions of the Temporal Association Cortex: Deficits of Recognition. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11131/ 


Rao, V., Rosenberg, P., Bertrand, M., Salehinia, S., Spiro, J., Vaishnavi, S., Rastogi, P., Noll, K., Schretlen, D. J., Brandt, J., Cornwell, E., Makley, M., & Miles, Q. S. (2009). Aggression after traumatic brain injury: prevalence and correlates. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences21(4), 420–429. https://doi.org/10.1176/jnp.2009.21.4.420 

McCarthy-Jones, S., Hayward, M., Waters, F., & Sommer, I. E. (2016). Editorial: Hallucinations: New Interventions Supporting People with Distressing Voices and/or Visions. Frontiers in psychology7, 1418. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01418 

For more TBI Glossary Terms, click here.

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