Functions of the Forebrain

The forebrain is the largest portion of the brain most of which is composed of the cerebrum.
A picture showing the location of the forebrain.
However, there
are other important components such as the limbic system, thalamus and hypothalamus. Altogether, the forebrain works to control cognitive, sensory and motor function as well as temperature, reproductive functions, eating, sleeping and displaying emotions. (Forebrain, 2008).

Parts of the Forebrain and Their Functions

  • Cerebrum - The cerebrum is made up of both the right and left hemispheres of the brain united by the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere is made up of the cerebral cortex and the basal nuclei, which together control all cognitive and motor function. (Forebrain, 2008).
  • Limbic System - The limbic system is the portion of the brain including several parts (such as the hippocampus and amygdala) found directly under the corpus callosum. The limbic structures are important in the regulation of visceral motor activity and emotional expression. (Forebrain, 2008).
  • Thalamus - The thalamus is a collection of nuclei forming a major structural component of the forebrain. The most important function of the thalamus is to relay sensory information to the cerebral cortex. (Forebrain, 2008).
  • Hypothalamus - Lying under the thalamus, the hypothalamus secretes corticotropin releasing hormone, which helps to control the body's metabolism by exerting an influence on the pituitary gland. It also secretes vasopressin, which is involved in the regulation of the sleep and wake states. (Forebrain, 2008).

Disorders that affect the forebrain

Cerebral cortex
depression, Huntington's disease, mania
epilepsy, stroke
  • frontal lobe
Alzheimer's disease, depression, mania
  • parietal lobe
Alzheimer's diseasea
  • temporal lobe
Alzheimer's disease, depression, mania
Limbic system
  • amygdala
  • hippocampus
Alzheimer's disease, mania


Forebrain. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from