The Forebrain's Structures and Functions

As you continue to work upward in the brain, you encounter the thalamus, which sits on top of the midbrain. The thalamus is involved in sleep and arousal (as are the hindbrain and midbrain to an extent), and it also processes visual and auditory sensory information — as well as much of the information that reaches the brain from the nervous system as a whole. Closely intertwined with the thalamus is the hypothalamus, a particularly interesting structure because it processes information regarding bodily needs, sex, and emotionality. The hypothalamus “controls” the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, so it plays an important role in homeostasis.

Above and around those structures is the limbic region, which works along with the hypothalamus. It also contains the hippocampus, a structure that is intimately involved in the formation of memories. And above this is the cerebrum, the area of the brain that is most highly developed in modern humans. You'll learn more about specific functions of the brain at various points in this text.

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