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Brain: Planum temporale
Approximate location of Wernicke's area highlighted in gray
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MeSH [1]

The planum temporale is the cortical area just posterior to the auditory cortex (Heschl's gyrus) within the Sylvian fissure.[1] It is a triangular region which forms the heart of Wernicke's area, one of the most important functional areas for language.[2]

The planum temporale shows a significant asymmetry. In 65% of all individuals the left planum temporale appears to be more developed, while the right planum temporale is more developed in only 10%. In some people’s brains, the planum temporale is more than five times larger on the left than on the right, making it the most asymmetrical structure in the brain.

This greater size of the left planum temporale compared with the right is already present in the foetus, where it can be observed starting from the 31st week of gestation. This observation strengthens the hypothesis of a genetic predisposition for brain asymmetry.[2] [3]

Functions Edit

The planum temporale is a highly lateralized brain structure involved with language and with music. Although the planum temporale is found to have an asymmetry in the normal population, having a leftward bias in right-handed individuals, people who possess absolute pitch have an increased leftward asymmetry of the planum temporale. This is due to a smaller than average volume of the right planum temporale and not a larger than average volume of the left.[4] The planum temporale may also play an important role in auditory processing with recent research suggesting that the region is responsible for representing the location of sounds in space.[5]

Other than Humans Edit

Although the brain area was thought to be unique to humans, almost like the anatomic version of the linguistic "language organ" of Noam Chomsky, it was shown to be similarly leftward asymmetric in chimpanzees and other great apes but not other primates,[6]; as was a related, rightward asymmetric, brain region the planum parietale that is implicated with dyslexia in humans.[7] Monkeys show cellular asymmetry but not gross anatomic asymmetry of the planum temporale.[8] Brain Research, 2008. The question still remains open; what are great apes or monkeys using this "non-human primate language area" for? [9] [10] [11] [12]


  1. Kolb B, Whishaw IQ (2003). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology, 5th, [New York]: Worth.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Brain From Top To Bottom
  3. Dorsaint-Pierre R, Penhune VB, Watkins KE, et al. (May 2006). Asymmetries of the planum temporale and Heschl's gyrus: relationship to language lateralization. Brain 129 (Pt 5): 1164–76.
  4. Keenan JP, Thangaraj V, Halpern AR, Schlaug G (December 2001). Absolute pitch and planum temporale. Neuroimage 14 (6): 1402–8.
  5. Science Daily. (22 September 2007). Brain Center For 'Sound Space' Identified. Retrieved 22 September 2007
  6. Gannon PJ, Holloway RL, Broadfield DC, Braun AR (January 1998). Asymmetry of chimpanzee planum temporale: humanlike pattern of Wernicke's brain language area homolog. Science 279 (5348): 220–2.
  7. Gannon PJ, Kheck N, Hof PR (March 2008). Leftward interhemispheric asymmetry of macaque monkey temporal lobe language area homolog is evident at the cytoarchitectural, but not gross anatomic level. Brain Res. 1199: 62–73.
  8. Gannon PJ, Kheck NM, Braun AR, Holloway RL (November 2005). Planum parietale of chimpanzees and orangutans: a comparative resonance of human-like planum temporale asymmetry. Anat Rec a Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol 287 (1): 1128–41.
  9. includeonly>Blakeslee S. "Brain of Chimpanzee Sheds Light on Mystery of Language", The New York Times, 1998-01-13.
  10. Chimps Like Us / We're Like Chimps
  11. Gibson, Kathleen Rita; Falk, Dean (2001). Evolutionary anatomy of the primate cerebral cortex, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  12. Sciencenews 1998 PDF

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