<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The diencephalon

The diencephalon is the one region of the adult brain that retains its name from embryologic development. The etymology of the word diencephalon translates to “through brain.” It is the connection between the cerebrum and the rest of the nervous system, with one exception. The rest of the brain, the spinal cord, and the PNS all send information to the cerebrum through the diencephalon. Output from the cerebrum passes through the diencephalon. The single exception is the system associated with olfaction    , or the sense of smell, which connects directly with the cerebrum. In the earliest vertebrate species, the cerebrum was not much more than olfactory bulbs that received peripheral information about the chemical environment (to call it smell in these organisms is imprecise because they lived in the ocean).

The diencephalon is deep beneath the cerebrum and constitutes the walls of the third ventricle. The diencephalon can be described as any region of the brain with “thalamus” in its name. The two major regions of the diencephalon are the thalamus itself and the hypothalamus ( [link] ). There are other structures, such as the epithalamus    , which contains the pineal gland, or the subthalamus    , which includes the subthalamic nucleus that is part of the basal nuclei.


The thalamus    is a collection of nuclei that relay information between the cerebral cortex and the periphery, spinal cord, or brain stem. All sensory information, except for the sense of smell, passes through the thalamus before processing by the cortex. Axons from the peripheral sensory organs, or intermediate nuclei, synapse in the thalamus, and thalamic neurons project directly to the cerebrum. It is a requisite synapse in any sensory pathway, except for olfaction. The thalamus does not just pass the information on, it also processes that information. For example, the portion of the thalamus that receives visual information will influence what visual stimuli are important, or what receives attention.

The cerebrum also sends information down to the thalamus, which usually communicates motor commands. This involves interactions with the cerebellum and other nuclei in the brain stem. The cerebrum interacts with the basal nuclei, which involves connections with the thalamus. The primary output of the basal nuclei is to the thalamus, which relays that output to the cerebral cortex. The cortex also sends information to the thalamus that will then influence the effects of the basal nuclei.


Inferior and slightly anterior to the thalamus is the hypothalamus    , the other major region of the diencephalon. The hypothalamus is a collection of nuclei that are largely involved in regulating homeostasis. The hypothalamus is the executive region in charge of the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system through its regulation of the anterior pituitary gland. Other parts of the hypothalamus are involved in memory and emotion as part of the limbic system.

The diencephalon

This figure shows the location of the thalamus, hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain.
The diencephalon is composed primarily of the thalamus and hypothalamus, which together define the walls of the third ventricle. The thalami are two elongated, ovoid structures on either side of the midline that make contact in the middle. The hypothalamus is inferior and anterior to the thalamus, culminating in a sharp angle to which the pituitary gland is attached.

Questions & Answers

how does it work?
Uriah Reply
get my whatsap line +233 208338444 for more details.
I want to know the fertilization process in human
Nana Reply
Which plane divides the body into right and left parts
sagittal plane
Thank you
Homestatic regulations usually involves a (n) _ that detects a particular stimulus, and a(n) _that respond to the stimulus by communicating with a (n) _whose activity has an effect on the same stimulus.
A cell is producing proteins to be transported out of that cell. They will be processed on ribosomes that are
what are diseases in the bood
Azoyenime Reply
right hypochondriac rision how meain word
Ganesh Reply
Diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus would most likely be indicated by ________.
oral cavity how miean
Ganesh Reply
oral cavity how mean what
seems to me every one is here a doctor and worse part is that even they donot know what to ask.
they know what to ask the problem is how to ask it.too much broken english.
dear George ongeche I think if they ask these kind questions and telling themselves as HCPs or medical student's .these are the basic ones go ask something more interesting .
what is blood red
Ahmad Reply
what is human anatomy?
Arpita Reply
tell me what is human anatomy?
what is Openstax?
arpita jana I think it's not the forum to ask such basic question...
study of structure of an object in this case human body.
what are deferent between trasemicacid and vitamin k
Ubah Reply
This medication is used to treat heavy bleeding during your menstrual period. Tranexamic acid works by slowing the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to prevent prolonged bleeding. It belongs to a class of drugs known as antifibrinolytics
In the body, vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting. So it is used to reverse the effects of “blood thinning” medications when too much is given; to prevent clotting problems in newborns who don’t have enough vitamin K; and to treat bleeding caused by medications including salicylates, sulfo
Vitamin K plays a key role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding. Unlike many other vitamins, vitamin K is not typically used as a dietary supplement. Vitamin K is actually a group of compounds. The most important of these compounds appears to be vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitami
how much tha total vertebrea bone
26 vertebrea bone
wathe is blood function
dhena Reply
Blood, fluid that transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries away carbon dioxide and other waste products. ... It is a tissue because it is a collection of similar specialized cells that serve particular functions. These cells are suspended in a liquid matrix (plasma), which makes the 
how tissue carries waste matrial
how many bone in human body?
Islam Reply
what is endocrin? plese help many people.
heart layers
endoceime is the inner layer of heart
What is buffer?
Peer Reply
a buffer is a solution that resists a chemical change.
Yup it also balances the solutions
most common side effect reported by users emergency contraceptive pill
Shivvir Reply
spotting .breakbrough bleeding .weightgain.breast tenderness.mood alteration. headache
How many systems are in the body?
Irvin Reply
names the systems pls
name the systems pls
integumentary system, lymphatic system, skeletal system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, respiratory system, urinary system, endocrine system
approximately 11 system
what's the meaning of Acidphosphacidic
Tiwa Reply
most common source of phosphoric acid is an 85% aqueous solution; such solutions are colourless, odourless, and non-volatile. The 85% solution is a syrupy liquid, but still pourable. Although phosphoric aciddoes not meet the strict definition of a strongacid, the 85% solution is acidic 
What is osteoblast and what is osteoclast?
osteoblast is the bone forming cells osteoclast is the bone dissolving cells
Which of the following is most likely to be found evenly distributed in water in a homogeneous solution? a. sodium ions and chloride ions b. NaCl molecules c. salt crystals d. red blood cells
Ashley Reply

Get the best Anatomy & Physiology course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Anatomy & Physiology' conversation and receive update notifications?