Structures of the diencephalon include the hypothalamus, thalamus, epithalamus, and subthalamus. Credit: SEER Training Modules / U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute


The diencephalon, along with the telencephalon (cerebrum) comprise the two major divisions of prosencephalon (forebrain). Main structures of the diencephalon include the hypothalamus, thalamus, epithalamus (including the pineal gland), and subthalamus. Also located within the diencephalon is the third ventricle, one of the four brain ventricles or cavities filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

The diencephalon relays sensory information between brain regions and controls many autonomic functions of the peripheral nervous system. It also connects structures of the endocrine system with the nervous system and works in conjunction with limbic system structures to generate and manage emotions and memories.


The diencephalon is involved in several functions of the body including:

  • Directing Sense Impulses Throughout the Body
  • Autonomic Function Control
  • Endocrine Function Control
  • Motor Function Control
  • Homeostasis
  • Hearing, Vision, Smell, and Taste
  • Touch Perception

Structures of the Diencephalon

The various structures of the diencephalon control a number of important functions in the body. Structures of the diencephalon include:

  • Thalamus - assists in sensory perception, regulation of motor functions, and control of sleep and wake cycles.
  • Hypothalamus - control center for many autonomic functions through the release of hormones.
  • Epithalamus (posterior area of the diencephalon that includes theĀ pineal gland) - aids in sense of smell and helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles.
  • Subthalamus - assists in motor control.


Directionally, the diencephalon is situated between the cerebral hemispheres, superior to the midbrain.


Divisions of the Brain

  • Forebrain - encompasses the cerebral cortex and brain lobes.
  • Midbrain - connects the forebrain to the hindbrain.
  • Hindbrain - regulates autonomic functions and coordinates movement.
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Bailey, Regina. "Diencephalon." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/diencephalon-anatomy-373220. Bailey, Regina. (2017, February 4). Diencephalon. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/diencephalon-anatomy-373220 Bailey, Regina. "Diencephalon." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/diencephalon-anatomy-373220 (accessed February 23, 2018).