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What Is the Superior Temporal Sulcus?

The superior temporal sulcus separates two temporal lobe structures.
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  • Written By: J. Finnegan
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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The superior temporal sulcus is found in the temporal lobe of the brain. It is a depression, or sulcus, that separates two of the temporal lobe structures. It's believed that the superior temporal sulcus is involved in recognizing motion, processing speech, responding to social cues, and also gaze recognition, or the ability to identify things through sight.

The anterior portion of the superior temporal sulcus, or the front part closest to the temple region, is considered to be mostly involved with the processing of speech. The posterior portion, or the back part of the superior temporal sulcus closest to the back of the head, is involved in the processing of a variety of activities such as recognizing motion and faces and understanding social cues. The exact part the superior temporal sulcus plays in the processing of information depends on what other areas of the cerebral cortex are activated with it.

Located on the side of the head is the temporal lobe in what is commonly called the temple region. It extends backward toward the back of the head where it meets the occipital lobe. The temporal lobe is divided into three gyri, or ridges. The first ridge, located at the top of the temporal lobe and closest to the top of the head, is called the superior temporal gyrus.

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Just below the superior temporal gyrus is the second ridge called the middle temporal gyrus. Below that sits the lowest ridge called the inferior temporal gyrus. The superior temporal sulcus is the fissure that separates the superior and middle temporal gyri. Separating the middle and inferior temporal gyri is the depression called the inferior temporal sulcus.

The lateral sulcus, also called the lateral fissure and also the Sylvian fissure, is located above the temporal lobe. The lateral fissure separates the temporal lobe from the both the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain. The Sylvian fissure sits above the superior temporal gyrus, and the superior temporal sulcus sits just below the superior temporal gyrus, making it the first sulcus to be found under the Sylvian fissure. The start of the superior temporal sulcus is located in the area above the ear. It extends backward toward the back of the head and arches slightly upward where it ends at the beginning of the parietal lobe near the parietal structure called the angular gyrus, which is involved in the processing of mathematical and linguistic information.

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