The pineal gland is a pine cone shaped gland of the endocrine system. A structure of the diencephalon of the brain, the pineal gland produces several important hormones including melatonin. Melatonin influences sexual development and sleep-wake cycles. The pineal gland is composed of cells called pinealocytes and cells of the nervous system called glial cells. The pineal gland connects the endocrine system with the nervous system in that it converts nerve signals from the sympathetic system of the peripheral nervous system into hormone signals.
The pineal gland is involved in several functions of the body including:
- Secretion of the Hormone Melatonin
- Regulation of Endocrine Functions
- Conversion of Nervous System Signals to Endocrine Signals
- Causes Feeling of Sleepiness
- Influences Sexual Development
Directionally, the pineal gland is situated between the cerebral hemispheres, attached to the third ventricle.
For additional information on the pineal gland, see: