February 2, 2011

028 The Thalamus and Hypothalamus

In this video, Leslie explains about the thalamus and the hypothalamus, and the specific functions that they are responsible for.


Transcript of Today’s Episode

Hello and welcome to another episode of Interactive Biology TV, where we’re making biology fun! My name is Leslie Samuel. In this episode, Episode 28, I’m going to talk about the thalamus and hypothalamus. Let’s get right into it.

Here we have the human brain, and before, we looked at this and we saw that we have the spinal cord that enters the cranium, and as soon as it enters the cranium, we have the brain, which is all of this here. We spoke about the brain stem already, we spoke about the cerebellum, we spoke about the cerebrum. What we’re going to talk about today is the hypothalamus and the thalamus. How I’m going to do that, I’m going to take this area here and show it on a different picture that we can look at in little more detail. So I’m taking that area, and that is what we’re looking at right now.

Here, as you can see, we have this region here that’s called the thalamus, and then right beneath that, we have the hypothalamus. So these are the 2 areas that we’re going to talk about today. What we’re going to do is we’re just going to look at the functions of those 2 areas.

First we have the thalamus, and the thalamus is kind of like a regulatory gateway. The reason I say that is almost all of the sensory input that comes into the brain goes through the thalamus, and the motor output goes via the thalamus to the rest of your body. So it brings stuff into the brain, and this is the gateway that kind of regulates what comes in and what goes out. That’s the function of the thalamus.

The hypothalamus, and if you look at what this really means, “hypo” means under, and “thalamus”, of course that’s the thalamus, so this is right beneath the thalamus. This is involved in functions including homeostasis, emotion, thirst, hunger, circadian rhythms, and control of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system involves those processes that you don’t have to think about. Regulating your heart rate and your breathing rate and so on, those are autonomic processes. This is, in some ways, controlled by the hypothalamus.

So there we have it, the thalamus and the hypothalamus. As we go into some of the other things that we’re going to talk about in later episodes, you’re going to see how some of this comes together and we’re going to paint a bigger picture of how the brain and the nervous system works. That’s it for this video, and I’ll see you in the next one.

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