Subthalamus: parts, functions and associated disorders

The human brain is made up of a large number of structures and substructures that represent different bodily systems and different cognitive and emotional skills and abilities. All the information we capture, For example, it must be integrated to form a concrete representation of reality. Likewise, different processes must also be integrated when responding to environmental stimulation.

There are different rescue centers where these associations are made, such as the thalamus. But in addition to that, there are different brain structures with similar functions, such as the subthalamus.

    What is the subthalamus?

    The subthalamus is a complex structure linked to the management of body movements and that it has a multitude of connections with different regions of the brain, such as dark matter and red nuclei, although some of its most important connections are with the pale globe.

    This structure is part of the diencephalon and is located between the brainstem and the cerebral hemispheres. Specifically, it can be found below the thalamus, from which it is separated by the interthalamic limiting zone, and above the midbrain (specifically the integument). It also connects to the hypothalamus.

    In addition to those already mentioned, other structures with which the subthalamus connects include the motor and prefrontal cortex or the basal ganglia.

      Main divisions of the subthalamus

      The subthalamus can be divided into different structures that make it up. The main sections that can be seen in this region of the brain are as follows.

      1. Subthalamic nucleus

      One of the main structures of the subthalamus, the subthalamic nucleus, is an oval-shaped nucleus located in the central part of the uncertain zone (which we will talk about later). This brain region is of great importance because of the large number of afferents it receives. The most relevant cause of its link with movement management is the relationship it has with the basal ganglia, With which it interacts through the use of glutamate.

      It also has glutamatergic connections with the primary motor, prefrontal, and premotor cortex, as well as with the thalamus and reticular formation.

      2. Uncertain area

      Located between the lenticular and thalamic fascicles, the uncertain zone is one of the substructures of the subthalamus. This leaf-shaped core is involved in motion control, part of the extrapyramidal pathway and related to the motor cortex. At its center is the subthalamic nucleus

      3. Forel kernels

      The nuclei of the Forel zones are three small areas of white matter in the subthalamus, also called Forel fields, Which act as nerve projections in different regions of the brain.

      main duties

      The subthalamus is a structure of great importance for the proper functioning of human beings, playing a major role in the integration of motor information that allows the management of movements. It is particularly related to unintentional aspects of movement and its precise controlThis greatly affects their connection and influence with the basal ganglia.

      In addition to motor control, it has also been observed that the subthalamus influence orientation and balance, Observing in front of his injury a greater risk of falls in front of the injury of the uncertain zone.

      Injuries to the subthalamus

      The presence of subthalamic lesions usually causes symptomatology related to movement control. In general, an injury in this area tends to produce sudden, involuntary movements, such as spasms and choreographic movements of the limbs.

      With regard to the latter, the subthalamic lesion is mainly related to Huntington’s chorea, in which the subthalamic nucleus is particularly affected. Same goes for Sydenham’s Korea, Of infectious origin. The degeneration of this structure causes the coreic movements of these diseases.

      It is also observed that the lesion of the subthalamus in relation to the pale balloon can generate hyperkinesia or excessive uncontrolled movements. On the other hand, it has been proposed that the stimulation of this region it could be helpful in relieving symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders, due to its effect on aspects such as locomotion and posture, by transcranial magnetic stimulation.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Snell, RS (2006). Clinical neuroanatomy. 6th edition. Editorial Médica Panamericana. Madrid.
        • Lopez, L. (2003). Functional anatomy of the nervous system. Noriega Editors. Mexico.
        • Afifi, AK and Bergman, RA (2007). Functional neuroanatomy. 2nd edition. Inter-American Mc Graw-Hill.

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