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The diencephalon of the brain consists of structures that are on either side of the third ventricle, and includes the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus and the subthalamus.

Diencephalon small.gif
Precursor Prosencephalon, derived from the neural tube
Part of Human brain
Parts Thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus and the subthalamus
Latin diencephalon
MeSH D004027
NeuroLex ID birnlex_1503
TA A14.1.03.007
TH H3.
FMA 62001
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The diencephalon is one of the main vesicles of the brain formed during embryogenesis. During the third week of development a neural tube is created from the ectoderm, one of the three primary germ layers. The tube forms three main vesicles during the third week of development: the prosencephalon, the mesencephalon and the rhombencephalon. The prosencephlon gradually divides into the telencephalon and the diencephalon.



The diencephalon consists of the following structures:

Anterior and Posterior Paraventricular nuclei
Medial and lateral Habenular nuclei
Stria medullaris thalami
Posterior commissure
Pineal body


The optic nerve (CNII) attaches to the diencephalon. The optic nerve is a sensory (afferent) nerve responsible for vision; it runs from the eye through the optic canal in the skull and attaches to the diencephalon. The retina itself is derived from the optic cup, a part of the embryonic diencephalon.


The diencephalon is the region of the embryonic vertebrate neural tube that gives rise to anterior forebrain structures including the thalamus, hypothalamus, posterior portion of the pituitary gland, and pineal gland. The hypothalamus performs numerous vital functions, most of which relating directly or indirectly to the regulation of visceral activities by way of other brain regions and the autonomic nervous system.

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This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 807 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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