• Andries Kalsbeek
  • Eric Fliers


A major function of the nervous system is to maintain the constancy of the internal environment. In 1878, Claude Bernard pointed out the remarkable distinction between our highly variable external environment (i.e., the environment that we live in and that is subject to major changes with regard to temperature, humidity, and food availability) and our rather invariable internal environment (i.e., the fluids surrounding our bodily tissues, whose composition is very constant). Conversely, Walter Cannon later put forward that our internal environment is not in fact constant, but rather shows a limited variability. He called the mechanism that maintains this limited variability “homeostasis.” Although in principle the whole brain is involved in homeostasis, the central brain region for homeostasis is the hypothalamus, a small area of the diencephalon that comprises less than 1% of the total volume of the human brain. The name hypothalamus was coined and introduced by Wilhelm Hess in 1893.


Thyroid Hormone Cerebral Spinal Fluid Median Eminence Arcuate Nucleus Hepatic Glucose Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Further Reading

  1. Kreier F, Swaab DF (2010) History of neuroendocrinology: “the spring of primitive existence”. In: Finger S, Boller F, Tyler KL (eds) Handbook of clinical neurology, vol 95, History of neuroendocrinology, 3rd series. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  2. Weiner J (1999) Time, love memory. A great biologist and his quest for the origins of behavior. Vintage, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismAcademic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam & Hypothalamic Integration Mechanisms, Netherlands Institute for NeuroscienceAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismAcademic Medical Center (AMC), University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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