Kolb & Wishaw (1990) have identified eight principle symptoms of temporal lobe damage: 1) disturbance of auditory sensation and perception, 2) disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input, 3) disorders of visual perception, 4) impaired organization and categorization of verbal material, 5) disturbance of language comprehension, 6) impaired long-term memory, 7) altered personality and affective behavior, 8) altered sexual behavior.
Selective attention to visual or auditory input is common with damage to the temporal lobes (Milner, 1968). Left side lesions result in decreased recall of verbal and visual content, including speech perception. Right side lesions result in decreased recognition of tonal sequences and many musical abilities. Right side lesions can also affect recognition of visual content (e.g. recall of faces).
The temporal lobes are involved in the primary organization of sensory input (Read, 1981). Individuals with temporal lobes lesions have difficulty placing words or pictures into categories.
Language can be affected by temporal lobe damage. Left temporal lesions disturb recognition of words. Right temporal damage can cause a loss of inhibition of talking.
The temporal lobes are highly associated with memory skills. Left temporal lesions result in impaired memory for verbal material. Right side lesions result in recall of non-verbal material, such as music and drawings.
Seizures of the temporal lobe can have dramatic effects on an individual's personality. Temporal lobe epilepsy can cause perseverative speech, paranoia and aggressive rages (Blumer and Benson, 1975). Severe damage to the temporal lobes can also alter sexual behavior (e.g. increase in activity) (Blumer and Walker, 1975).
Common tests for temporal lobe function are: Rey-Complex Figure (visual memory) and Wechsler Memory Scale - Revised (verbal memory).
Blumer, D., & Benson, D. Personality changes with frontal and temporal lesions. In D.F. Benson and F. Blumer, eds. Psychiatric Aspects of Neurologic Disease. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1975.
Blumer, D., & Walker, E. The neural basis of sexual behavior. In D.F. Benson and F. Blumer, eds. Psychiatric Aspects of Neurologic Disease. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1975.
Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. (1990). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology. W.H. Freeman and Co., New York.
Milner, B. (1968). Visual recognition and recall after right temporal lobe excision in man. Neuropsychologia, 6:191-209.
Milner, B. (1975). Psychological aspects of focal epilepsy and its neurosurgical management. Advances in Neurology, 8:299-321.
Read, D. (1981). Solving deductive-reasoning problems after unilateral temporal lobectomy. Brain and Language, 12:116-127.
Taylor, L. (1969). Localization of cerebral lesions by psychological testing. Clinical Neurosurgery, 16:269-287.