Function of thalamus in human brain

The thalamus is a busy place in the human brain, and a stroke there can have a wide range of effects.

By Jon Caswell

The thalamus is a busy place in the human brain, and a stroke there can have a wide range of effects. Jeremy Schmahmann, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, director of the ataxia unit and member of the cognitive behavioral neurology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, shared more about this type of stroke.

The thalamus, which means "inner chamber" in Greek, is on top of the brainstem near the center of the brain. It has two halves, each about the size of a walnut. "The thalamus is divided into many different areas, which are connected very specifically to different parts of the brain, " Dr. Schmahmann said. "A stroke in one part of the thalamus will not have the same effect as a stroke in another part."

The thalamus has many functions, including:

  • It manages our sensitivity to temperature, light and physical touch and controlling the flow of visual, auditory and motor information;
  • The thalamus is involved in motivation, attention and wakefulness;
  • It’s in charge of our sense of balance and awareness of our arms and legs;
  • It controls how we experience pain;
  • It’s also involved in aspects of learning, memory, speech and understanding language; and
  • Even emotional experiences, expression and our personalities involve the thalamus.

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station, " receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.

Though relatively small, the thalamus controls a big part of how our bodies function and respond to the world around us. "The thalamus has dense connections to all the parts of the brain and receives information from all parts of the brain, " Dr. Schmahmann said. Only a small part of the thalamus receives input from the outside world or sends information to the outside world. Mostly the thalamus helps the cortex and other cells deep within the brain to communicate with each other.

"The thing that makes the thalamus quite special is that it’s a relatively small, very concentrated area deep inside the brain, and a small change in the location of the stroke can produce a substantial change in how the stroke affects the survivor, " Dr. Schmahmann said.

For example, a stroke in the thalamus may cause drowsiness, contribute to the development of epilepsy, impact a survivor’s attention span, or a sense of apathy.

You might also like

Cocaine in the human brain
Cocaine in the human brain
Human Growth Facts : When Does the Male Body Stop Growing?
Human Growth Facts : When Does the Male Body Stop Growing?
Tiny Starship Owls - A Matching Game for Kids
Mobile Application (Tiny Starship)
  • Random Levels
  • 30 Different Owls 
40 Different backgrounds showing all 4 seasons 
Fun facts about Owls after every level
  • Beautiful Graphics
  • Bright and Fun music
Rejects from Studios BrainBox for Kids - Nature Card Game
Toy (Rejects from Studios)
  • BrainBox for Kids London Card Game is a fast-paced game of concentration featuring fun facts about the world we live in
  • Players study a card for 10 seconds, then flip it over and compete to see who remembers the most detail
  • Comes with cards, game dice, and hourglass timer
  • Fun for 1 or more players age 8 and over
  • University Games offers you and your family creative games that are easy to learn and fun to play
Sony Sony ICD-UX533BLK Digital Voice Recorder - Black
CE (Sony)
  • Introducing the ideal digital voice recorder for business, school, and/or music recording, delivering ease of use with superior recording and audio playback capability
  • 4 GB of available internal flash memory provides ample space for recording life s important moments-up to 1,073 hours in fact
  • Capture every nuance, distant or low volume, with great clarity via a 2-element stereo microphone array
  • A built-in Memory Card Expansion Slot (microSD/M2) allows for additional recording
  • Automatically adjusts recording levels for optimum results, or when necessary allows for manual control
Getting Fit Backyard Birds Card Game
Toy (Getting Fit)
  • Enter your model number
  • Above to make sure this fits
  • Includes 36 high-quality and visually stimulating playing cards PLUS a 32-page fact book
  • Three games in one deck so you can play brain stimulating games of Memory, Old Maid, and Go Fish
  • Created in association with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Nova Development Scholastic Brain Play: 4th - 6th grade [Old Version]
Software (Nova Development)
  • Mickelodeon Toon Twister 3D lets your imagination run wild as you produce your own ultimate Nickelodeon cartoon! Teaches creativity, use of imagination, writing...
  • Talk Now! Spanish makes it easy to learn how to speak Spanish, by playing fun games that reinforce basic language skills. Covers vocabulary, pronunciation, word-object...
  • Zoo Empire gives kids a chance to discover fascinating facts about the world s most exotic animals, while you build the zoo of your dreams! Teaches animal habitats...
  • Brain Play Workbook perfect learning skills with a workbook that offers practice with reading, math, writing and more!

Copyright © . All Rights Reserved