The best way to think of the Thalamus is that it is a relay station - incoming signals go through the thalamus to the cortex and outgoing signals go through the thalamus to the motor system and other regions of the peripheral nervous system.
Now, another key thing to understand about the Thalamus is that it is not a single structure, but it is a name for a collection of nuclei, each of which is a "mini" relay station.
For example, incoming visual information from the eyes goes through the Pulvinar nucleus of the Thalamus to the Primary Visual Cortex.
Thalamic Nuclei (and their role)
Anterior Nucleus Memory and Emotion
Dorsomedial Nucleus Executive Function
Ventral Posterolateral Nucleus Relays information about pain, temperature, and touch
Ventral Posteromedial Nucleus Sensory information from the face
Ventral Anterior Nucleus. Relays information from the muscles about movement
Ventrolateral Nucleus Relays motor information
Lateral Posterior Nucleus Attention - helps prioritize sensory information
Pulvinar Nucleus Visual processing
Medial Geniculate Nucleus Processes auditory information
Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Visual processing
Reticular Nucleus Sort of controls the Thalamus as a whole - the outer layer
The Brain Stem
The brain stem plays a key role in controlling basic body functions such as balance, blood pressure, breathing, facial sensations, hearing, heart rhythms, and swallowing.
The brain stem consists of three primary structures - the Midbrain, the Pons, and the Medulla Oblongata.
The Midbrain is crucial for controlling eye movements.
The Pons controls facial movements, hearing, and balance.
The Medulla Oblongata controls breathing, heart rhythms, blood pressure, and swallowing.
The Brain Stem also contains the Reticular Activating System which governs your sleep and wake cycles.
The human hippocampus. Very easy to see in the cartoon picture, in real life on an MRI scan very hard to see - the highlighting is artificial of course.
The hippocampus plays a big role in the formation of new memories - in particular explicit memories such as our knowledge of facts (semantic memories) and events (episodic memories).
The hippocampus also plays an important role in consolidation - when the various parts of a memory are "tied" together so they have a relationship. Thing of your memory for last night - you need to consolidate the sights, smells, location, etc into one memory.
The hippocampus also plays a key role in spatial navigation.
A pre-recorded presentation for the Canadian Society for Aerospace Medicine about my work with the NASA Mars Habitat and Mars mission.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.