The temporal lobe has been implicated in multiple cognitive domains through lesion studies as well as cognitive neuroimaging research. There has been a recent increased interest in the structural and connective architecture that underlies these functions. However there has not yet been a comprehensive exploration of the patterns of connectivity that appear across the temporal lobe. This article uses a data driven, spectral reordering approach in order to understand the general axes of structural connectivity within the temporal lobe.
Two important findings emerge from the study. Firstly, the temporal lobe's overarching patterns of connectivity are organised along two key structural axes: medial to lateral and anteroventral to posterodorsal, mirroring findings in the functional literature. Secondly, the connective organisation of the temporal lobe is graded and transitional; this is reminiscent of the original work of 19th Century neuroanatomists, who posited the existence of some regions which transitioned between one another in a graded fashion. While regions with unique connectivity exist, the boundaries between these are not always sharp. Instead there are zones of graded connectivity reflecting the influence and overlap of shared connectivity.