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What Is the Planum Temporale?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The planum temporale is a part of the brain on the superior temporal gyrus, right behind the auditory cortex. This is roughly in the area of the brain located just inside the skull just above and behind the ear. Part of an area of the brain called the forebrain, it is widely considered one of the major regions of the brain that handle language and music.

This is an important part of the brain for effectively communicating with other people. It is a small section of a part of the brain called Wernicke's area, which is one of two areas of the brain thought to be most strongly involved in communication, like reading and listening to speech. Size differences between the sides of the planum temporale tend to correlate with either exceptional language and music talents or common speech and reading disorders.

The planum temporale is one part of the brain that is heavily implicated in producing and understanding words that are spoken or read, and in the processing of sounds. When processed through this area of the human brain, sounds are thought to travel to other areas of the brain to be processed further. Types of sounds processed by the planum temporale are most often speech, but they can also include complex sounds, like music.

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Size differences in this part of the brain often correlate with difficulties or advantages in processing sound and language. While an abnormal planum temporale can be related to exceptional musical talent, an abnormal planum temporale can also correlate with problems in language or speech. Language difficulties that relate to abnormalities in the sizes of the sides of the planum temporale include dyslexia and stuttering.

The planum temporale is part of the cerebral cortex, the outside layers of folded tissue on the cerebrum. It lies within a structure called the lateral sulcus, which is also known as the Sylvian fissure. The average individual has a more highly developed one on the left side. Presence of balanced right and left sizes can correlate with the presence of dyslexia. A difference that can be observed in the brains of growing fetuses. Exceptional auditory ability can be related to smaller-than-normal right side of the planum temporale, a feature found in many musically inclined people.

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