What is the Difference Between Hippocampus and Hypothalamus

The key difference between hippocampus and hypothalamus is that the hippocampus is a region located in the allocortex of the brain and controls motivation, emotions, learning, and memory, while the hypothalamus is a region located below the thalamus of the brain and controls body temperature, metabolic processes, and other activities of the autonomic nervous system.

The hippocampus and hypothalamus are two important parts of the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system refers to the structures deep within the brain that control emotions and memories. The limbic system is also known as the paleomammalian cortex. This system lies on both sides of the thalamus, just under the cerebrum. The limbic system includes hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and other nearby regions.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Hippocampus  
3. What is Hypothalamus
4. Similarities – Hippocampus and Hypothalamus
5. Hippocampus vs Hypothalamus in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Hippocampus vs Hypothalamus

What is Hippocampus?

Hippocampus is an important brain structure and is a part of the limbic system. It is a region located in the allocortex of the brain and controls motivation, emotions, learning, and memory. Hippocampus is an S-shaped structure. It is normally a small, curved formation in the brain. The hippocampus is found in humans as well as in all other vertebrates. In humans, it contains two interlocking parts called hippocampus proper and dentate gyrus.

Figure 01: Hippocampus

Scientists have known about the hippocampus for more than four centuries. It is one of the most studied parts of the brain. It plays a vital role in the formation, organization, and storage of new memories, as well as connecting some sensations and emotions to these memories. The hippocampus helps humans to process two types of memories: declarative memory and spatial relationship memory. Moreover, if one or both parts of the hippocampus are damaged by an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or any accident, a person can have a loss of memory and cannot make new long-term memories. Hippocampus is a sensitive part of the brain. Various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and conditions like depression and stress can adversely affect the hippocampus.

What is Hypothalamus?

Hypothalamus is a region located below the thalamus of the brain. It controls body temperature, metabolic processes, and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It is a portion of the brain that has a number of small nuclei with distinctive functions. One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is the linking of the nervous system with the endocrine system through the pituitary glands. All vertebrates’ brains have a hypothalamus.

Figure 02: Hypothalamus

The human hypothalamus is the size of an almond. It generally produces and secretes neurohormones (releasing hormones or hypothalamic hormones) that stimulate or inhibit the secretion of hormones from pituitary glands. Furthermore, the hypothalamus also regulates hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, important aspects of parenting and attachments behaviours, and circadian rhythms. Damage to the hypothalamus may cause diabetes insipidus, insomnia, fluctuation in body temperature, hypothalamic obesity, hypopituitarism, and sex gland deficiencies.

What are the Similarities Between Hippocampus and Hypothalamus?

  • The hippocampus and hypothalamus are two important parts of the limbic system of the brain.
  • They are brain structures deep within the brain.
  • They are present in the brains of humans and all other vertebrates.
  • Both parts control emotions and memories.
  • They are very important for sustaining the life of humans and all other vertebrates.

What is the Difference Between Hippocampus and Hypothalamus?

Hippocampus is a region located in the allocortex of the brain that controls motivation, emotions, learning and memory, while the hypothalamus is a region located below the thalamus of the brain that controls body temperature, metabolic processes, and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. So, this is the key difference between hippocampus and hypothalamus. Furthermore, when hippocampus is damaged, a person can have a loss of memory and a loss of ability to make new long-term memories. On the other hand, when hypothalamus is damaged, a person can have diabetes insipidus, insomnia, fluctuation in body temperature, hypothalamic obesity, hypopituitarism, and sex gland deficiencies.

The below infographic lists the differences between hippocampus and hypothalamus in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Hippocampus vs Hypothalamus

The limbic system includes hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and other nearby regions that are mainly controlling emotions and memories. Hippocampus is a region located in the allocortex of the brain and controls motivation, emotions, learning and memory, while the hypothalamus is a region located below the thalamus of the brain and controls body temperature, metabolic processes, and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. Thus, this summarizes the difference between hippocampus and hypothalamus