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What Is the Inferior Temporal Gyrus?

By J. Finnegan
Updated May 17, 2024
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The inferior temporal gyrus is located in the area of the human brain called the temporal lobe, and is one of three gyri found there. It's found in the lower portion of the temporal lobe. As part of the primate visual system called the visual cortex, the inferior temporal gyrus plays a role processing visual information.

The cerebrum is the outer covering of the human brain, and it's made up of ridges called gyri and depressions called sulci. The singular for the terms are gyrus and sulcus respectively. The cerebrum is divided into two halves by the great longitudinal fissure, which is a long depression that extends from the back of the brain to the front, in the forehead region. The two halves are called hemispheres and both of them have four lobes: the frontal lobes at the front of the brain, the parietal lobes at the top of the brain, the temporal lobes at the sides, and the occipital lobes at the back.

The temporal lobe begins in the temple region of the head and extends toward the back of the skull, and is primarily associated with auditory perception. It has two sulci and three gyri, which are stacked on top of one another. The topmost is called the superior temporal gyrus. Below it is the first of the two sulci called the superior temporal sulcus, which separates the superior temporal gyrus from the middle temporal gyrus just beneath it.

Separating the middle temporal gyrus from the lower inferior temporal gyrus, is the second of the two sulci called the inferior temporal sulcus. The inferior temporal gyrus extends along the entire length of the temporal lobe and connects to the inferior occipital gyrus located in the occipital lobe. Much of this area is part of the visual cortex, which is divided into the ventral and dorsal streams.

The dorsal stream, also known as the “where” stream, is involved in spatial awareness and begins in the primary visual cortex located in the occipital lobe, then moves upward into the parietal lobe. The ventral stream, also known as the “what” stream, is associated with object recognition. It begins in the occipital lobe's primary visual cortex, then moves down the occipital lobe to the temporal lobe's inferior temporal gyrus. Although located in the temporal lobe, it's the proximity to the occipital lobe, which largely deals with processing visual stimuli, that allows the inferior temporal gyrus to be so closely associated with visual perception.

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