The Hypothalamus

  • Marc E. Freeman
  • David R. Grattan
  • Thomas A. Houpt


Functions of the Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is part of the limbic portion of the brain in vertebrates that regulates the internal milieu of the cells within narrow limits as it compensates for changing external conditions such as variations in temperature, energy, or defensive requirements. The constancy of the internal environment resulting from these fine adjustments made by the hypothalamus is referred to as homeostasis. The hypothalamus maintains homeostasis by exerting control over the two regulatory systems of the organism: the nervous system and the endocrine system.

In regulating the nervous system, the hypothalamus controls autonomic processes such as cardiovascular, thermoregulatory and visceral function. In addition, behavioral processes such as ingestive, sexual, maternal, and emotional behaviors are also regulated by the hypothalamus. The role of the hypothalamus in the regulation of the nervous system is summarized in Table 1.
Table 1

Neural Processes...


Luteinizing Hormone Thyroid Stimulate Hormone Paraventricular Nucleus Portal Blood Median Eminence 
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Selected reading

  1. Conn PM and Freeman ME. (eds.). Neuroendocrinology in Physiology and Medicine. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, 2000.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press, Totowa, NJ 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc E. Freeman
    • 1
  • David R. Grattan
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Houpt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Science, Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Structural BiologyUniversity of Otago Medical SchoolNew Zealand

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