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Mesal aspect of a brain sectioned in the median sagittal plane.
Latin diencephalon
Gray's p.807
MeSH A08.186.211.730.385
Code TH H3.
NeuroNames hier-271
NeuroLex ID Diencephalon
TA A14.1.03.007
FMA 62001
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The diencephalon is part of the prosencephalon (forebrain), which develops from the foremost primary cerebral vesicle. The prosencephalon differentiates into a caudal diencephalon and rostral telencephalon. The cerebral hemispheres develop from the sides of the telencephalon, each containing a lateral ventricle. The diencephalon consists of structures that are lateral to the third ventricle, and include the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus and the subthalamus.


Location of the Diencephalon (red).

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 posterior 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 the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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