QS Study

Functions of Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus plays a key role in regulating pituitary function. It is a part of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a mixture of functions. It is located below the thalamus and is part of the limbic system. It is located below the thalamus and right above the brain stem.

It plays an important role in hormone production and helps to stimulate many important processes in the body. The functions of the hypothalamus are mentioned below:

(A) Autonomic control: The hypothalamus has control over the autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine system, thus preserving body homeostasis. So hypothalamus should be regarded as a higher nervous center for the control of lower autonomic centers in the brainstem and spinal cord.

(B) Endocrine control: The nerve cells of the hypothalamic nuclei by producing releasing factors on release-inhibiting factors, controls the hormone production of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

(C) Neurosecretion: Vasopressin and oxytocin are secreted by the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei.

(D) Temperature regulation: The anterior portion of the hypothalamus causes heat loss on stimulation and the posterior does the opposite on stimulation.

(E) Regulation of food and water intake: The lateral portion initiates hunger and the medial portion is referred to as the satiety center.

(F) Emotion and behavior control.

(G) Control of circadian rhythm: The hypothalamus controls many circadian rhythms including body temperature, adrenocortical activity, eosinophil count and renal secretion.

Other common functions are:

  • controls body temperature,
  • control of food and water intake, hunger and thirst,
  • control of sexual behavior and reproduction,
  • mediation of emotional responses,
  • balancing bodily fluids,
  • maintaining daily physiological cycles
  • regulates the secretion of hormones from pituitary gland.
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