Temporal Lobe

Blue brain with highlighted temporal lobeThe temporal lobe is one of the four brain lobes. Associated with a number of sensory functions, particularly hearing and speech perception, the temporal lobe is located near the base of the brain on either side of the cerebral cortex. Damage to the temporal lobe can cause lasting effects on a person’s senses, memory, or personality.

Roles of the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe’s primary role is to integrate and interpret sensory input, both audio and visual, though it also plays a significant role in several other functions. Long-term explicit memory is regulated by the hippocampus, which is housed in the temporal lobe and aids in both memory and spatial navigation. Other functions affected by the temporal lobe include language comprehension, personality, and behavior, particularly sexual and social behavior. Libido depends on the temporal lobe, and so do personality traits such as irritability and agitation, which are produced in the temporal lobe.

Damage to the Temporal Lobe

A person with damage to his or her temporal lobe may be able to see or hear stimuli but be unable to categorize or name it. The effect of damage to the temporal lobe is partially dependent upon which side is damaged. Damage to the left side of the temporal lobe, for example, can result in difficulty remembering or articulating visual or auditory stimuli. Damage to the right side, however, is more likely to interfere directly with the perception of sensory stimuli. For example, a musician who develops a lesion of the right temporal lobe may lose his musical abilities. Damage to the temporal lobe affects behavior and abilities in a number of ways that may not always be predictable and that are partially dependent upon the specific area in the temporal lobe that is damaged.

Temporal lobe epilepsy, which can result from either brain injury or seizure and fever, is one of the better-known sources of temporal lobe damage, and long-term damage may result from this type of epileptic seizure. Seizures of the temporal lobe often affect personality, causing lasting effects such as paranoid behavior, rage and aggression, altered sexual behavior, and perseverative speech. Those experiencing a temporal lobe seizure may feel almost nothing, or they might feel intense fright or pleasure, or experience old memories or foreign emotions.

Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cause changes in the temporal lobe, particularly in the hippocampus. Alzheimer’s often destroys cells in the hippocampus first, and this results in the memory difficulties that are characteristic of the condition. Those with Parkinson’s tend to have more atrophy in the hippocampus than people who do not have the disease.


  1. American Psychological Association. (2009). APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  2. Holmes, G. (2013, September 1). Epilepsy Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/temporal-lobe-epilepsy.
  3. Simpson, J. (2013, August 16). Temporal Lobe Functions. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/23820-temporal-lobe-functions/.

Last Updated: 08-28-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Brenda

    July 7th, 2016 at 9:54 PM

    My husband was recently diagnosed with temporal and frontal lobe epilepsy. We are searching for a psychologist who is familiar with the changes in behavior and personality so we can gain a better understanding and hopefully coping skills. We reside in Alaska and would be open to telemedicine for ongoing therapy. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

  • Claudia A. C.

    November 10th, 2017 at 11:41 PM

    My deceased ex husband had mental issues that are now being exhibited by my 59 year old son even though they had almost no actual contact with each other since my son was 1 year old. These include suicidal ideation (2 members actually committed suicde and 3 others tried). Also paranoia, agorophobia and Most Notably constant ruminating about past negative events with complete inability to move on with life. Is there any brain syndrome with a hereditary component that this sounds like. Also, my ex husband died of Parkinson’s disease and our son has now developed a significant tremor in his right hand.

  • Rosi

    May 30th, 2018 at 8:46 AM

    Look into ancestral healing. Often we energetically carry the imprint of our ancestors diseases. Some ancestral healing would be beneficial in removing this imprint.

  • Kyle D

    July 13th, 2019 at 1:49 PM

    Brenda I became epileptic at the age of 12 in 1987 from a head concussion damaging my left temporal lobe and my left occipital lobe. I simply fell from monkey bars. The majority of the damage was channeled to my temporal lobe. In August of ’01, I underwent temporal-lobe lobectomy, where I had a small portion of my temporal lobe removed. In the 31 years of being epileptic, I have been down a bumpy road. Prior to my surgery, the only thing my medicines did for me is prevent me from having grand-mal seizures. I don’t have an answer for you for your situation because we each have our own mountains to climb. Stand by his side and walk him through his journey. The left temporal lobe is a fragile piece to the human personality. You are to watch him deal with new emotional matters he never encountered as he enters new medicines. Neurontin, dilantin, depakote, tegratol, lamotragin, Topamax… these are just a few of the medicines I have taken in the last three decades. Stay away from Felbatol–I was on it when it first came out and was awake for a month (it later was found to cause heart attacks). My point is to stand by his side because his journey is yours, too. Each time he has a seizure, you’re there beside him. When he comes out, he needs your assurance nothing will ever separate you two. The times will be ugly. Scary. Be strong. I wish I could tell others my experiences to reassure them their journeys have happy endings, but my journey has just begun… I’m still writing…

  • tracey-lee

    August 22nd, 2018 at 2:44 PM

    help I just got the diagnosis of damaged left temporal lobes I too was suicidal most of my life not today .I am in early recovery for drugs /alcohol been fighting this disease since I was 14 went to my first AA meeting. Did this do the damage? My addictions Dr, told me in recovery brain cells will come back in time.Today I found out this damage is permanent cannot come back and I take ceacers., have not had one in 8 months but I am petrified even more now. Anyone have some advice?

  • Miranda

    November 30th, 2022 at 1:15 AM

    In our mental health journeys, particularly if they include recovery from substance abuse, it’s all-important to keep going. Trying new things with the doctors and support groups who know what to do. In AA, we say Keep Coming Back.
    My dad has intermittent seizures during sleep. I wish I knew how to prevent them, but I will be by his side at doctor’s appointments, encourage him to keep taking the medication, and keep him safe whenever I can.

  • Eric

    December 19th, 2023 at 4:54 PM

    I have been living with the effects of a closed skull crush injury with left hippocampus damage since 1995. Cost me my ability to function, like almost completely, but subsequently my wife and daughter. My family and friends turned their backs and I could not get medical people to help me with my “headaches”. I was lost in the world for a few years and suffering the most chaotic, vicious migraine for 15 years day in and day out and such ugly insomnia and horrible nightmares when I did sleep. Even now, no one in my life will willingly hear or know about my still living and trying to function with some of these issues in this article or what I’ve been through or how far I’ve come almost completely solo, regardless of having people in my life. I’ve never contemplated in my life, this level of alone feeling. The abandonment cuts deep.

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