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Deep Structure of the Brain

Deep structures

Pathways called white matter tracts connect areas of the cortex to each other. Messages can travel from one gyrus to another, from one lobe to another, from one side of the brain to the other, and to structures deep in the brain (Fig. 5).
Color illustration, coronal cross-section showing the basal ganglia.
Figure 5. Coronal cross-section showing the basal ganglia.
Hypothalamus: is located in the floor of the third ventricle and is the master control of the autonomic system. It plays a role in controlling behaviors such as hunger, thirst, sleep, and sexual response. It also regulates body temperature, blood pressure, emotions, and secretion of hormones.
Pituitary gland: lies in a small pocket of bone at the skull base called the sella turcica. The pituitary gland is connected to the hypothalamus of the brain by the pituitary stalk. Known as the “master gland,” it controls other endocrine glands in the body. It secretes hormones that control sexual development, promote bone and muscle growth, and respond to stress.
Pineal gland: is located behind the third ventricle. It helps regulate the body’s internal clock and circadian rhythms by secreting melatonin. It has some role in sexual development.
Thalamus: serves as a relay station for almost all information that comes and goes to the cortex. It plays a role in pain sensation, attention, alertness and memory.
Basal ganglia: includes the caudate, putamen and globus pallidus. These nuclei work with the cerebellum to coordinate fine motions, such as fingertip movements.
Limbic system: is the center of our emotions, learning, and memory. Included in this system are the cingulate gyri, hypothalamus, amygdala (emotional reactions) and hippocampus (memory).

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