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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1999 Jan;29(1):26-49.

The planum temporale: a systematic, quantitative review of its structural, functional and clinical significance.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.


The planum temporale (PT) is a triangular area situated on the superior temporal gyrus (STG), which has enjoyed a resurgence of interest across several disciplines, including neurology, psychiatry and psychology. Traditionally, the planum is thought to be larger on the left side of the brain in the majority of normal subjects [N. Geschwind, W. Levitsky, Human brain: left-right asymmetries in temporal speech regions, Science 161 (1968) 186-87.]. It coincides with part of Wernicke's area and it is believed to consist cytoarchitectonically of secondary auditory cortex. Consequently, it has long been thought to be intimately involved in language function. The PT is, therefore, of relevance to disorders where language function is impaired, such as schizophrenia and dyslexia. The gross anatomical boundaries remain in dispute, and only recently has its cytoarchitecture begun to be studied again after 60 years silence, and finally its functional significance is only now being explored. In the first part of this review the structural aspects and anatomical boundaries of the PT in the normal brain from post mortem and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and methods of measurement are discussed. In the second part, studies of the functional significance of the PT in the normal brain are reviewed critically. Finally a meta-analysis of MRI measurements of the distribution of planum anatomy in normal subjects is presented. Comparison is made with clinical populations, including schizophrenia and dyslexia, and the influence of handedness and gender on such measurements is quantified. Although there are many ways of defining and measuring the PT with a wide variety of results, overall there is a significant leftward asymmetry in normals, which is reduced in left handers and females. The leftward asymmetry is much reduced in patients with schizophrenia due to a relatively larger right PT than normal controls. The review is intended to guide future researchers in this area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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