Different parts of the brain are in charge of specific functions and biological processes. And even though we know quite a lot about the brain, there’s still much more to uncover.
We’re not yet familiar with all of the brain’s capabilities, and research is still a work in progress. Yet, we have made some groundbreaking progress.
We’re going to explore the part of the brain known as the right temporal lobe. We’ll look at what it does, how it works, and the possible consequences of damaging this part of the brain.
If you want a better brain, you have to learn things every single day.—Jim Kwik
What Does the Right Temporal Lobe of the Brain Do?
The temporal lobe is one of the four major lobes of the brain. It’s located beneath the left and right hemispheres of the cerebral cortex, close to our ears.
Now, the main function of this lobe is making sense of sensory input, both aural and visual.
Basically, it analyzes everything we see and hear and helps us understand the information it receives.
The right temporal lobe also deals with our ability to comprehend language, both in spoken and in written form, and helps manage our visual memory. Recognizing and understanding our emotions is also governed by the right temporal lobe.
What Does the Right Temporal Lobe of the Brain Control?
Colloquially speaking, our brain is, in a way, cross-wired. Essentially, one side of the brain controls the opposite side’s bodily function and vice versa.
Of course, this applies to the temporal lobe in its entirety: the right temporal lobe controls the audio-visual function of the left side of the body. All that we see with our left eye and hear by our left ear is analyzed and categorized here.
Besides mnemonic processes and audio-visual input, the right temporal lobe also controls our behavior and personality. Injuring it can lead to severe personality changes.
What Are the Symptoms of the Right Temporal Lobe Damage?
In their research, Kolb and Wishaw list the following symptoms of right temporal lobe damage:
1. Disturbance of auditory perception and auditory sensation
This is one of the most common types of right temporal lobe injuries. Damage to the right temporal lobe lessens our ability to perceive musical tones and severely impairs overall musical ability.
2. Problems with visual perception
The same lesion that affects our ability to properly hear and distinguish sounds affects our visual perception. People suffering from this type of right temporal lobe injury have trouble recognizing objects from their surroundings.
3. Damaged long-term memory
Visual data and non-verbal material (pictures and musical pieces) are difficult to memorize and remember.
4. Damaged ability to categorize objects
People with a damaged right temporal lobe have issues determining whether an object belongs in a specific category or not (i.e. determining whether an object is animate or inanimate).
5. Selective attention disturbance
Connecting words with objects may prove difficult for people suffering from right temporal lobe damage.
6. Changes in sexual behavior
Damage to the right temporal lobe can cause alterations of sexual habits. A person may either feel decreased or increased sexual desire.
7. Trouble with word comprehension
Recognizing individual words and what they mean may become more problematic. Also, a person may lose some speaking inhibition, i.e. they may speak more persistently than normal.
8. Personality shifts
Seizures of the temporal lobe are a serious issue, which may result in personality changes. Namely, some of the most common changes include aggressive behavior, perseverative speech, and paranoia attacks.
The best way to keep the temporal lobe (and the brain as a whole!) as healthy as possible is by supporting it with new stimuli and experiences. Exercise, meditation, and learning new skills all challenge the brain in unique ways.
The brain doesn’t learn through consumption. It learns through creation.—Jim Kwik