The internal anatomy of the temporal lobe

 Learning outcomes: 

By the end of this module you should be able to:


  • describe the structures of the medial aspect of the temporal lobe


  • localise and name the internal structures of the temporal lobe


  • name the structures included in the limbic system


  • identify the role and function of the limbic system


  • describe disorders related to the damage or dysfunction of the temporal lobe internal structures


  • apply specific tests to assess the function of the temporal lobe.


Module introduction

The temporal lobe is a structure unique to primates (Kiernan, 2012), among which the largest belongs to humans. Knowledge of anatomy, function and disorders affecting the temporal lobe is invaluable in psychiatry, and it has been subject to psychiatric research for decades.


In this module we have used a linear approach in order to explain the anatomy of the temporal lobe. It is best to imagine holding it and rotating it around its axis to explain its lateral, inferior, medial and internal aspects.


The anatomy and the function of the lateral and inferior aspects of the temporal lobe are presented in the module The functional anatomy of the brain.


In this module we focus on the functions of the insula linked to social emotions. We also look at the functions of the medial temporal lobe in memory processing, motivation, reward anticipation, impulse control and threat detection.


At the end of this module, we present the famous case of patient HM to illustrate temporal lobe dysfunctions.


Since a pure description of anatomical features can be incredibly dry, we have linked these to clinical aspects, which will hopefully contribute to more fruitful learning.


We anticipate that this module will not only help you to understand the anatomical and functional complexities of the temporal lobe, but that it will also spark a deeper interest in neuropsychiatry.


Please note that the content contained in the videos within this module is intended as an adjunct to the learning points and does not reflect the views of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Furthermore, any advertisements shown in the videos are not chosen by, and do not reflect the views of, the College. 


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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