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The function of the anterior temporal lobe: A review of the empirical evidence.

Summary of "The function of the anterior temporal lobe: A review of the empirical evidence."

Recent work on the anterior temporal lobe (ATL) has lead to substantively different theoretical branches, of its putative functions, that have in some part developed independently of one another. The ATL has dense connectivity with a number of sensory modalities. This has resulted in empirical evidence that supports different functionality dependent upon the variables under investigation. The main bodies of evidence have implicated the ATL as a domain-general semantic hub, whilst other evidence points to a domain-specific role in social or 'person-related' processing. A third body of evidence suggests that the ATLs underlie processing of unique entities. Primarily, research of the ATL has been based on lesion studies and from clinical populations such as semantic dementia or temporal lobe epilepsy patients. Although important, this neuropsychological evidence has a number of confounds, therefore techniques such as functional neuroimaging on healthy participants and the relatively novel use of non-invasive brain stimulation may be more useful to isolate specific variables that can discriminate between these different theories concerning 'normal' function. This review focuses on these latter types of studies and considers the empirical evidence for each perspective. The overall literature is integrated in an attempt to formulate a unifying theory and the functional sub-regions within the ATL are explored. It is concluded that a holistic integration of the theories is feasible in that the ATLs could process domain-general semantic knowledge but with a bias towards social information or stimuli that is personally relevant. Thus, it may be the importance of social/emotional information that gives it priority of processing in the ATL not an inherent property of the structure itself.

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Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Brain research
ISSN: 1872-6240
Pages: 94-116

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A neurosurgical procedure that removes the anterior TEMPORAL LOBE including the medial temporal structures of CEREBRAL CORTEX; AMYGDALA; HIPPOCAMPUS; and the adjacent PARAHIPPOCAMPAL GYRUS. This procedure is generally used for the treatment of intractable temporal epilepsy (EPILEPSY, TEMPORAL LOBE).

The compartment containing the anterior extremities and half the inferior surface of the temporal lobes (TEMPORAL LOBE) of the cerebral hemispheres. Lying posterior and inferior to the anterior cranial fossa (CRANIAL FOSSA, ANTERIOR), it is formed by part of the TEMPORAL BONE and SPHENOID BONE. It is separated from the posterior cranial fossa (CRANIAL FOSSA, POSTERIOR) by crests formed by the superior borders of the petrous parts of the temporal bones.

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Almond-shaped group of basal nuclei anterior to the inferior horn of the lateral ventricle of the brain, within the temporal lobe. The amygdala is part of the limbic system.

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