Coronal slices of human brain showing the basal ganglia, subthalamic nucleus (STN) and substantia nigra (SN). STN is in subthalamus; SN is not.
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Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The subthalamus or prethalamus is a part of the diencephalon. Its most prominent structure is the subthalamic nucleus. The subthalamus connects to the globus pallidus, a basal nucleus of the telencephalon.


The subthalamus is located ventral to the thalamus, medial to the internal capsule and lateral to the hypothalamus. It is a region formed by several grey matter nuclei and their associated white matter structures, namely:

During development the subthalamus is continuous with the hypothalamus, but is separated by white matter fibres mainly from the internal capsule. Caudally, the subthalamus or prethalamus is separated from the thalamus by the zona limitans intrathalamica.[citation needed]

Postnatally, the subthalamus lies beneath the thalamus, hence 'sub' (meaning below) 'thalamus'. It also lies dorsolateral to the hypothalamus.


The subthalamus develops efferent (output) connections to the striatum (caudate nucleus and putamen) in the telencephalon, to the dorsal thalamus (medial and lateral nuclear groups) in the diencephalon, and to the red nucleus and substantia nigra in the mesencephalon. It receives afferent (input) connections from the substantia nigra and striatum.

See also

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