Difference Between Thalamus and Hypothalamus

The human brain is one of the most complex structures of the human body. There are several nerves in the brain which are interconnected and are responsible for human activity(thinking process, motor activities,and their growth).

There are several parts like cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem which constitutes the human brain. These parts also have large numbers of smaller parts which further perform their specific roles.

Cerebrum is composed of two hemisphere type structure, cerebellum is part located under cerebrum and brainstem is the nerve which connects both parts with spinal cord

In cerebrum between the division of two hemispheres there is a division known as diencephalon. Diencephalon has structures like thalamus, hypothalamus, subthalamus and the epithalamus.

Thalamus vs Hypothalamus

The difference between thalamus and hypothalamus is the difference of their functions and their location within the brain. Basic function of thalamus is to regulate sensory motor activities, whereas hypothalamus is mainly responsible for releasing, producing and inhibiting several hormones in the body which produces other hormones. There are a lot more differences between both of them.

Thalamus vs Hypothalamus


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonThalamusHypothalamus
FunctionRegulates sensory and motor activitiesProduce/release/inhibit hormones for production of other hormones.
Locationtop of brainstem,near centre of brain.Above pituitary gland,below thalamus.
Size and structureTwo bulbs on each side of the hemisphere. Larger in size.Many small bulbs (nuclei).Smaller in size.
Other responsibilitiesAlertness and consciousness.Internal body balance.
DisordersMovement disorders, visual disorders, sensory loss(coma), etc..Appetite disorders, sleep disorders,trauma,etc..


What is Thalamus?

Thalamus is the sub part of the diencephalon(division between forebrain), it’s a gray matter structure mainly responsible for sensory and motor activities of humans.

Thalamus has several responsibilities like it regulates alertness, consciousness or wakefulness.

Thalamus is supplied blood by four major arteries and those are

  1. Polar artery
  2. Paramedian artery
  3. Thalamic and subthalamic arteries
  4. Posterior choroidal arteries

Brain has sensory nerves which pass the signal to the thalamus as soon as something happens and then the thalamus gives a reaction and sends further signals to the cerebral cortex.

Thalamus itself is a complex structure and constituted by two ends anterior and posterior poles. Also has four surfaces, those are:-

  1. Medial surface has important nucleus of thalamus
  2. Lateral surface is covered by external medullary lamina
  3. Superior surface is coated with some white substance
  4. Inferior surface is connected to one end of hypothalamus

Thalamus is the largest subdivision in diencephalon consisting of nuclei in each side of forebrain or cerebrum.

It is located in the centre of the brain, lying on top of the brainstem. It surrounds the third ventricle within the brain. Thalamus also plays a role in emotions, memory, arousals etc..

Thalamus is a sensitive part of the brain and can be triggered easily, neoplasia can damage thalamus disease in blood supply or even hemorrhage.

Injury to thalamus may lead to thalamic disorders like brain damage, auditory diseases, sensory loss, motor loss, thalamic hand etc.


What is Hypothalamus?

Hypothalamus is the tiny part of the brain that maintains the body’s internal balance. It’s major responsibility is to send signals to the pituitary gland to produce hormones or to increase or decrease the quantity of secretion of any hormone.

Basically it is responsible for producing, releasing or inhibiting hormones which are further responsible for formulation of other hormones in the body. Hypothalamus lies under thalamus and above pituitary gland.

It serves as a link between the endocrine and nervous system.

Other significant functions of hypothalamus are, it regulates heart rate, blood pressure, body weight, appetite, body temperature and sleep cycle. Size of the hypothalamus is not more than an almond.They are present in large numbers known as nuclei.

Hormones that hypothalamus majorly secretes or is responsible for are:-

  1. Oxytocin
  2. Growth hormone
  3. Anti -diuretic hormone
  4. Gonadotropin hormone
  5. Prolactin hormone

Hypothalamus is responsible for stress and controlling the body temperature.it controls daily body needs and balance It secretes melatonin from pineal gland and converts it into cortisol, this procedure generally takes place during night.

Any damage to hypothalamus may lead to disorders like sleeping disorders, appetite disorder or sometimes trauma.

Hypothalamus not only produces signals but also works actively to maintain the balance. For example if body temperature is high then it will give a signal to sweat and if the temperature is low then it produces its own heat .


Main Differences Between Thalamus and Hypothalamus

  1. The main difference between thalamus and hypothalamus is the functions they perform. One is responsible for motor activities and other is responsible for formulation and releasing of hormones, respectively.
  2. Thalamus consists of two bulb-like structures on each side of the forebrain, whereas hypothalamus are present in large numbers.
  3. Thalamus regulates emotions and thinking process, on the other hand hypothalamus regulates sleep, hunger,and body temperature.
  4. Thalamus is larger in size when compared to hypothalamus.
  5. Thalamus is located in the centre of the brain and on top of the brainstem whereas hypothalamus lies beneath thalamus.
  6. Thalamus is generally responsible for reflective activities, on other hand hypothalamus tend to have mental or internal activities more.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/chemse/article-abstract/10/2/239/326161
  2. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/17/6706.short
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