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The subcortex is the part of the brain that lies directly below the cerebral cortex.
It consists of three main divisions.
- The basal ganglia, which lies in each hemisphere and is involved in motor control and skills learning. Disorders to this area cause either hypokinetic (poverty of movement) or hyperkinetic (excess of movement) problems. Examples include Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.
- The limbic system. It is primarily involved in the detection and expression of emotion. Of its components, the amygdala detects fearful or threatening objects, and the hippocampus is involved in laughter and the connection between the amygdala, thalamus and hippocampus is associated with positive feelings. The hippocampus also plays an important role in learning, memory and detecting novelty.
- The diencephalon. This consists of two structures---the thalamus and the hypothalamus. The thalamus is the main sensory relay for all senses, except smell, between the sense organs. The hypothalamus functions to regulate body temperature, hunger, sexual behavior and thirst.