The hypothalamus is an endocrine gland that plays a cardinal role in regulating the body temperature. This function is carried out by the specific roles of the anterior hypothalamus and the posterior hypothalamus. The working of both these domains is contrary to each other.
While the electrical stimulation of the anterior hypothalamus initiates a thermolytic response thereby resulting in the onset of activities that would enable a decrease in the body temperature; spur within the posterior hypothalamus elicits a thermogenic response that leads to elevation in body heat and its conservation.
Thermolytic responses are characterized by cutaneous vasodilation which is illustrated by body reactions like elevation in heat loss by radiation, perspiration that facilitates heat loss by evaporation, and the typical feature of panting in animals particularly in dogs. In contrast to this, thermogenic responses incorporate cutaneous vasoconstriction that results in minimizing loss of heat via radiation, the mechanism of shivering that increases heat level owing to vigorous muscular activity, termination of perspiration to restrict heat loss through evaporation, and an elevation in the level of thyroxine in order to enhance the rate of metabolism.
The hypothalamus is also well equipped to gauge the fluctuations in the temperature of the blood circulating within the body and the environmental conditions as well. While the internal alterations of temperature are indicated by thermoreceptors, the external variations are signaled by the cutaneous thermoreceptors within the hypothalamus. Once the information is communicated, the hypothalamus triggers off the apposite thermolytic or thermogenic response so as to keep the body temperature under check.
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