Anterior Inferior Temporal Cortex

Last update: September 13, 2022
By BrainMatters


The anterior end of the temporal lobe is also called the anterior inferior temporal lobe, abbreviated as the aIT lobe. This area plays an important role in so-called semantic memories. It functions as a kind of collection center of different kinds of knowledge about objects and concepts.


If you have a pork chop on your plate, you know it's called "pork chop”. Maybe you also know what animal it comes from, what it tastes like, what it feels like in your mouth. You know that you have to eat it, and also that that has to be done with a knife and fork. All these different kinds of information are stored in different places in the brain, and it is the aIT lobe that collects all this information, as it were, when it is needed.


The temporal lobe is the piece of the brain that sits on either side of the brain, so to speak, behind the ears. At the very front extreme of this lobe is the anterior inferior temporal lobe, in line with the superior temporal gyrus and the medial temporal gyrus. It consists of about seven different sub-areas that are also found in monkey brains. However, there is one sub-area called "TG'' that exists only in humans.


The aIT lobe is usually one of the first areas to be affected during the development of Alzheimer's disease. This explains why people in the early stages of Alzheimer's sometimes have specific memory problems.


Patients with damage to this brain region often suffer from a condition called semantic amnesia. If they are asked to name a picture of a zebra, for example, they can often tell that it is a horse. Naming the picture requires little semantic knowledge about an object. But then they wonder why those horses have those crazy stripes and what they are for. Also, these patients have problems guessing what animal is meant by "an African animal with black and white stripes”. This is because it requires access to semantic memories.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Thomas von Rein)

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