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Anatomy of the Central Nervous System (cont.)

The Central Structures of the Brain

The central structures of the brain include the thalamus, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe but participates in the processing of memory and emotions and is interconnected with central structures. Other structures are the basal ganglia, which are made up of gray matter and include the amygdala (localized in the temporal lobe), the caudate nucleus, and the lenticular nucleus (putamen and globus pallidus). Because the caudate and putamen are structurally similar, neuropathologists have coined for them the collective term striatum.

  • The thalamus integrates and relays sensory information to the cortex of the parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. The thalamus is located in the lower central part of the brain (that is, upper part of the brainstem) and is located medially to the basal ganglia. The brain hemispheres lie on the thalamus. Other roles of the thalamus include motor and memory control.
  • The hypothalamus, located below the thalamus, regulates automatic functions such as appetite, thirst, and body temperature. It also secretes hormones that stimulate or suppress the release of hormones (for example, growth hormones) in the pituitary gland.
  • The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland produces hormones that control many functions of other endocrine glands. It regulates the production of many hormones that have a role in growth, metabolism, sexual response, fluid and mineral balance, and the stress response.
  • The ventricles are cerebrospinal fluid-filled cavities in the interior of the cerebral hemispheres.
  • For more information, see Anatomy of the Endocrine System.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014
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