Pineal gland
The pineal gland is a small endocrine
Endocrine system
In physiology, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. It derives from the Greek words "endo"...

 gland in the vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

. It produces the serotonin
Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system of animals including humans...

 derivative melatonin
Melatonin , also known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants, and microbes...

, a hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

 that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres
Cerebral hemisphere
A cerebral hemisphere is one of the two regions of the eutherian brain that are delineated by the median plane, . The brain can thus be described as being divided into left and right cerebral hemispheres. Each of these hemispheres has an outer layer of grey matter called the cerebral cortex that is...

, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies
The thalamus is a midline paired symmetrical structure within the brains of vertebrates, including humans. It is situated between the cerebral cortex and midbrain, both in terms of location and neurological connections...

The pineal gland is reddish-gray and about the size of a grain of rice (5–8 mm) in humans, located just rostro-dorsal to the superior colliculus
Superior colliculus
The optic tectum or simply tectum is a paired structure that forms a major component of the vertebrate midbrain. In mammals this structure is more commonly called the superior colliculus , but, even in mammals, the adjective tectal is commonly used. The tectum is a layered structure, with a...

 and behind and beneath the stria medullaris
Stria medullaris
The stria medullaris, also known as stria medullaris thalami, is a fiber bundle containing efferent fibers from the septal nuclei, lateral preoptico-hypothalamic region, and anterior thalamic nuclei to the habenula...

, between the laterally positioned thalamic bodies.