The temporal lobes ride between the frontal and occipital lobes, approximately at the midline of the skull, behind both temples, and includes modules of the limbic system. Standing "at the end of the 'what' stream," a major function of these lobes is to organize and categorize sensory material.1 Disturbances can affect both auditory (impaired language comprehension) and visual (decreased ability to recognize visual content, such as faces).

Neuroscientists have found that stimulating the temporal lobes can result in the subject experiencing what they perceive as a ghostly image of "Jesus," "Mohammed," "Buddha," or a neutral "spiritual" entity, depending upon the tradition in which the subject had been schooled. Pantheists may see an "Ancestor." Along with these visions may come a feeling of déjà vu.2 There may also be satanic experiences, depending upon which side of the amygdala, found in these lobes, has been activated. 

Damage to the temporal lobes may result in long-term memory loss, while there may be profound loss of short-term memory, because the hippocampus is inclusive to these lobes. While the left lobe renders verbal attributes, lesions on the the right side may hinder non-verbal recall, such as music and art. Left temporal lesions hamper the recognition of words, while right temporal damage can cause vocal inhibitions, including stuttering.

After Yahweh spoke to Moses from a Burning Bush, ordering him to lead his people, Moses begged to be released from this task. "They will not believe me," he pleaded, "nor harken to my voice...I am not eloquent, neither heretoforth, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant. I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."3 Most scholars agree that these passages refer to Moses as having been a stutterer, one of the earliest on record.

Symptoms of  schizophrenia have been traced to abnormalities of the temporal lobes. Post-mortum examinations have found that the degree of the lobes' gyral folding is significantly increased in persons who were diagnosed as schizophrenic.4 Overactivity in the middle and particularly in the right front lobes has been associated with auditory hallucinations. The cascades of temporal lobe epilepsy, now called "complex partial seizure disorder,"  can cause perseverative speech, paranoia and aggressive rages (as it affects the amygdala), as well as transcendental feelings of oneness with the universe.

 


(1) J. McCrone, Going Inside. New York, 2001. p.173
(2) J. Hitt, "This Is Your Brain on God." http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/persinger.html
(3) Exodus 4:1,10)
(4) Highley J.R., et al.,."Temporal lobe length is reduced, and gyral folding is increased in schizophrenia: a post-mortem study." Schzophr. Res. (1998); Vol. 34, pp.1-12.