The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, and is divided into five sections, or lobes: the insula and the temporal, frontal, parietal and occipital lobes. Each of these lobes has distinct functions, sometimes divided between the left and right side of each lobe; however, according to the Merck Manual, these functions work frequently in tandem with other parts of the brain or the opposite lobe. Your temporal lobes are on the left and right side of your brain, about where your ears are and stretch back around to almost the base of the spine.
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One of the primary functions of the temporal lobes is the recognition of speech, sound and visual information. When your temporal lobe is not functioning properly, your ability to understand what people are saying or to understand visual information can be lost. The right and left lobes work together in this process. Problems with the right lobe in particular can cause problems with talking or comprehending music.
The temporal lobes play an important part in memory regarding the recalling of factual information. They operate somewhat as data banks for discrete pieces of information, and they categorise information. The right temporal lobe plays a large part in the remembrance of songs, music or art.
Researchers have recently begun to speculate that the temporal lobes may be the part of the brain stimulated during spiritual or religious experiences. Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran of the University of California, San Diego has posited that patients with temporal lobe epilepsy appear to have a high sensitivity to extraordinary experiences. Dr. Melvin Morse of the University of Washington speculates that the right temporal lobe is often involved in near death or other unusual experiences. Both maintain that locating the point of such experiences in the brain is not indicative either way of the authenticity of the experience itself.
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