Thyroid Hormones in Relation to Development of the Nervous System

  • Donald H. Ford
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 8)


Modern interest in hormone research may be said to have commenced with the use of aqueous extracts of dog and guinea pig testicles by the French neurologist, Brown-Sequard (1889) to restore male sex drive in man, one may presume by an action on the nervous system. However, since it is to be doubted that an aqueous extract could remove the lipid soluble steroid hormone from the testicular tissue, it would seem that the reported beneficial effect was psychological. Interest in thyroid hormone in relation to its effect on the nervous system undoubtedly is of more ancient origin, based on early observations available in the literature on mental retardation in cretins. Additional evidence for a thyroid hormone effect in development was presented in 1924 by Allen who demonstrated that metamorphosis in amphibians was thyroid hormone dependent and that in the absence of thyroxine the brain failed to attain normal growth. Then, in 1952 investigations conducted by Beach demonstrated that gonadal hormones influence reproductive behavior. However, little direct evidence had accumulated at this time to support a hormonal action on the nervous system. The concept of a critical period in the development of the brain wherein the presence or absence of androgens could determine whether or not the hypothalamus regulated a cyclic or acyclic pituitary-gonad relationship was yet to come.


Thyroid Hormone Thyroid State Postnatal Development Hypothyroid Animal External Granule Cell Layer 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald H. Ford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyState University of New York Downstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA

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