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Neuroanatomy : Diencephalon, Thalamus & Hypothalamus

Covered by the two cerebral hemispheres

the diencephalon is the structure of the central nervous system

that is at the center of the brain

It contains masses of gray matter

such as the thalamus and the hypothalamus

that play tremendous roles in the organism

The thalamus is a nuclear complex that occupies the most part of the diencephalon

It acts essentially as a relay

to the vast majority of sensory inputs

that go up to the cerebral cortex

It also plays a very important rôle in movements and emotions

The thalamus is made up of two masses of gray matter: right and left

each taking an ovoid shape

These two parts are often joined together in the center by the Interthalamic adhesion

The thalamus consists of multiple nuclei, each of these nuclei plays a very specific role

the thalamus marks the lateral side of the third ventricle

and it is surrounded on top and front

by the body and the head of the 2 lateral ventricles

The hypothalamus; located directly below and in front of the thalamus

is much smaller in size and volume

nevertheless, its role in the body is not the least

In fact the hypothalamus contains several distinct nuclei that provide numerous functions

including thermoregulation, Appetite and regulation of the sleep-wake cycle

It also plays a capital role in modulating the autonomic nervous system

The hypothalamus is the real endocrine engine of the whole body

It controls the secretions of the pituitary gland

which produces the most important hormones of the body