Brain Stem, Diencephalon, Thalamus, Hypothalamus – 117

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Basal Ganglia – 116Neuron and Axonal Tracts Series

Gordon Johnson:        Doctor, you’re holding in your hand now a brain, the brain stem and the diencephalon. Is that correct?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Well a little more than the diencephalon because over here you have a little bit of the internal capsule and some other white matter.

Gordon Johnson:        All right, show us in what you have, what you’re holding, first the brain stem and then the diencephalon.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            So here is the brain stem, here. Below this is spinal cord, so this is medulla. This is pons. This is the midbrain. The front part of it is referred to as the tectum. The back part is the tectum and if I rotate this around, you see the two parts of the tectum, the inferior colliculiand the superior colliculi here. The inferior coliculus is as an auditory projection center or, sound and then the superior coliculus is vision and visual reflexes.

Gordon Johnson:        And then you can also show the diencephalon.

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Then I can also show the diencephalon. Here this is the thalamus. Down here is the hypothalamus. Just below the hypothalamus and it’s not shown in this model because I can show it in that over there. It’s the pituitary. In fact, maybe if you could hand me that one. So, what we’re looking at here in this view like so, and I’m going to take this away now. Here is the pituitary gland, the master gland over hormonal regulation in the body, and it interfaces, with the hypothalamus. What’s really fascinating to me as a neuroscientist is the smallness of the hypothalamus but its critical role in regulating, drive, motivation, food, satiation, hunger, sexual function and its interface then with the pituitary.

Gordon Johnson:        Because of the size of what you have on your models, let’s go to our computer graphics if we can to show these. Will they show up on the graphics?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            Not very well, um, so deep in here, this is the thalamus. We really don’t get a way of imaging separately the hypothalamus in this particular graphic. I can, these things off here, so there is the thalamus.

Gordon Johnson:        The thalamus is the brownish?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            The brown structure.

Gordon Johnson:        And the purple below it is?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            That is some of the supportive area that comes around at the base of the frontal lobe and the top of the brain stem.

Gordon Johnson:        Okay. And the blue again is the ventricle?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            The blue is the ventricle. In fact in this particular view right here, see we have this very nice representation. In fact, we can leave the ventricle – woops, and so there we’ve got the ventricle. You can see how closely that models it.

Gordon Johnson:        Does the pituitary show up in this?

Dr. Erin Bigler:            No the pituitary does not show up in this.

Gordon Johnson:        All right.

 

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Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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