Caudate nucleus

Medically reviewed by Healthline Medical Team on April 14, 2015

Each of the brain's hemispheres contains a caudate nucleus, and both are located centrally and near the basal ganglia. They are also situated near the thalamus, which is deep in the brain, close to the midbrain. Each nucleus features a wide head that tapers into a body and a thin tail. As a whole, each nuclei is curved and often resembles the letter 'C' in shape.

The caudate nucleus plays a vital role in how the brain learns, specifically the storing and processing of memories. It works as a feedback processor, which means it uses information from past experiences to influence future actions and decisions. This is important to the development and use of language. Specifically, communication skills are thought to be controlled mostly by the left caudate and the thalamus.

Some brain specialists suspect the nucleus may play a role in the development of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). If this is true, it likely occurs because the nucleus is unable to control the transmission of worrying and concerning impulses between the thalamus and the orbitofrontal cortex, which alters the impact of this information on actions and decisions.

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