The thalamus and hypothalamus

Sensory information from the spinal cord is relayed and sorted out in the thalamus. Only a fraction of the multitude of sensations experienced every minute actually reach consciousness. It does so only after the information has been processed in the thalamus. The thalamus develops from the midbrain and lies between the pons and cerebrum. The conscious appreciation of pain is a property of the thalamus. The hypothalamus lies close to the thalamus. It is concerned with the regulation of vital functions such as body temperature, sleep, appetite and the release of hormones. In this latter, endocrine, function the hypothalamus controls the secretion of hormones from the nearby pituitary gland. It is the pituitary hormones, circulating in the bloodstream, that ‘switch on’ and ‘switch off hormone-secreting endocrine glands elsewhere in the body, such as the thyroid and adrenal glands.