Hormonal Humors

  • Bernard T. Donovan


While the focus of action of the neurohumors is the nervous system, the hormonal humors paint on a much broader canvas. They are active in the embryo, in controlling growth and development, and later in life govern almost every aspect of body function. Before the current revelations, the production of hormones was thought to be limited to relatively few glands: the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands, the gonads, and the pancreas. There was debate over the possible recognition of the brain as an endocrine organ, and dispute over the inclusion of organs such as the pineal and thymus glands in the endocrine category. Originally, an organ was considered to be a producer of hormones only when removal of the gland was shown to produce a distinct set of pathological changes that could be reversed by treatment with an extract of the gland. The case was even stronger if the effects of overdosage of animals with a purified extract matched those seen in patients where the gland was shown to be overactive, as might occur with a tumour. It is less easy to adhere to these principles in the evaluation of the hormonal activity of the newer members of the club, and best to begin with a discussion of the influence of long-established hormones upon the brain.


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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Bernard T. Donovan 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard T. Donovan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyInstitute of PsychiatryLondonUK

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