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The thalamus (plural: thalami) is a paired and symmetrical structure in the brain, and the main part of the diencephalon. It is the pathway through which signals are sent from cerebrum to midbrain (brainstem) via the cerebral peduncles and vice versa.

The thalamus is an egg shaped structure and made of at least 50 thalamic nuclei. It is in the dorsal portion of the diencephalon.

The thalamus has many functions including:

  • translator of prethalamic inputs into readable form
  • process and relay of sensory information selectively to various parts of the cerebral cortex
  • regulation of sleep and wakefullness
  • thalamo-cortico-thalamic circuits involved in consciousness
  • arousal, the level of awareness, and activity

Blood supply for the thalamus comes from a number of arteries including polar and paramedian arteries, inferolateral (thalamogeniculate) arteries, and posterior (medial and lateral) choroidal arteries. These are all branches of the posterior cerebral artery.

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