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What Is the Superior Temporal Gyrus?

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  • Written By: J. Finnegan
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The superior temporal gyrus is located in the temporal lobe of the human brain. It's one of three convolutions, or gyri, in this area, and is the uppermost gyrus of the temporal lobe. It is situated above the external ear. Primarily responsible for processing sound, the superior temporal gyrus includes Wernicke's area, which is involved in understanding language. It's thought that the superior temporal gyrus is also involved in processing the emotional meaning derived from facial expressions.

The primary auditory cortex is located in the back half of the superior temporal gyrus and is roughly equivalent to the Brodmann areas 41 and 42. Part of the primary auditory cortex also exists inside the Sylvian fissure. In most people, only the left side superior temporal gyrus contains Wernicke's area because this is a dominant hemisphere structure.

Right handed people generally have Wernicke's area in the left superior temporal sulcus because they are left brain dominant. Left handed people can have Wernicke's area in the right superior temporal sulcus because they are often right brain dominant. Wernicke's area is equivalent to Brodmann area 22p.

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The outermost part of the brain, called the cerebrum or cerebral cortex, is divided into four pairs of lobes: the frontal lobes located in the front of the head, the parietal lobes at the top and upper sides of the head, the temporal lobes on the lower sides of the head, and the occipital lobes at the back of the head. The occipital lobes are the smallest lobes of the brain and the frontal lobes are the largest. The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres by the interhemispheric fissure, which is also known as the great longitudinal fissure. This division splits the brain's lobes into pairs, one on either side of the brain.

The temporal lobe is located on the side of the brain, in the temple region, and is named for the cranial temporal bone which covers it. It's divided into two depressions called sulci and three ridges called gyri. The bottom ridge is called the inferior temporal gyrus. It's separated from the middle temporal gyrus by the fissure named the inferior temporal sulcus.

Above the inferior temporal sulcus is the ridge named the middle temporal gyrus. It's separated from the superior temporal gyrus by the superior temporal sulcus. The top ridge is the superior temporal gyrus, which is separated from the nearby frontal and parietal lobes by the prominent brain structure known as the Sylvian fissure.

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