The temporal lobes are located on either side of the brain, behind the eyes and underneath the temples. They store memories and images and help us define our sense of self. They also play an important part in memory, emotional stability, learning and socialization.

The dominant side is usually on the left. Functions associated with the dominant side include: understanding and processing language; intermediate-term memory; long-term memory; auditory learning; retrieval of words; complex memories; visual and auditory processing; and emotional stability.

The non dominant side is usually on the right. Functions associated with the non dominant side include: recognizing facial expressions; decoding vocal intonation; rhythm; music; and visual learning.

“Temporal lobe problems occur much more frequently than previously recognized”; page 190, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. Since they are located in an area surrounded by bone, they can be damaged by a blow from every angle. While the most common source of problems is genetics, they can also be caused by head injuries and toxic or infectious exposure. If you read about a patient named Blaine (page 191), you will realize that head injuries can last a lifetime undetected. In Blaine’s case he fell on his head when he was five years old but not diagnosed until he met Dr. Amen when Blaine was sixty; Blaine’s story represents a lifetime of problems.

Dominant side problems: aggression; violent thoughts; sensitivity to slights; word-finding problems; problems with auditory processing; reading difficulties; and emotional instability.

Non dominant problems include: difficulty recognizing facial expressions; difficulty decoding vocal intonation; and social skill struggles.

Problems that could be associated with either side: memory or amnesia; headaches; anxiety or fear; visual/auditory distortions; deja vu; spaciness or confusion; religious or moral preoccupation; hypergraphia (excessive writing);  and seizures. The checklist for determining if there are temporal lobe problems is on page 202.

The recommended behavioral changes to promote temporal lobe health are interesting. They include: create a library of wonderful experiences; sing wherever/whenever you can; hum and tone to tune up your brain; listen to classical music; learn to play a musical instrument; move in rhythms; get enough sleep,  and try EEG biofeedback. These are in addition to medication and nutritional approaches Dr. Amen outlines in his book.

In several of the final chapters, Dr. Amen focuses on issues that originate in multiple parts of the brain, such as violence, the use of drugs and alcohol, and problems with intimacy. His book ends with a discussion of when and how to seek professional care. As I stated in one of my first blogs on this subject, this book has completely changed my outlook on humanity. I am beginning to realize that humans are a frail race whose behavior can be forever affected by the simplest accidental fall that results in minor brain trauma, to say nothing of our genetic influences.

I hope you have found these blogs on healing the brain useful and interesting. I would appreciate any feedback you wish to share. My next blog: Healing the Brain – Meditation.