As evident in its name, the hypothalamus is an endocrine gland located beneath the thalamus within the skull. The supreme importance of this gland can be highlighted by the fact that it serves as a connecting link between the endocrine and nervous system, which is facilitated by the pituitary gland.
The hypothalamus is responsible for administering numerous vital functions within the human body. One of the primary functions of this gland is homeostasis, which incorporates regulation of the temperature of the body, blood pressure, balance of the electrolytes, fluid balance as well as weight of the body. The body temperature is controlled by the anterior and posterior lobes of the hypothalamus via the initiation of thermolytic or thermogenic response as indicated by the thermoreceptors and the cutaneous thermoreceptors within the hypothalamus. The equilibrium of water in the body is monitored by the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei and is facilitated by the osmoreceptors, initiating and restricting the flow of vasopressin in the neurohypophysis capillaries.
The lateral part of the hypothalamus is involved in the stimulation of hunger. Decrease in the level of blood sugar is gauged by the glucostatic receptors that communicate this information to the hypothalamus. The message in turn is further communicated to the brain which triggers the response of hunger. Working contrary to this mechanism is the ventromedial hypothalamus that receives the message of fullness from the glucostatic receptors on the rise in blood sugar level.
Taking care of another cardinal function that is regulation of the biological clock is the suprachiasmatic nucleus located in the anterior hypothalamus. The awareness of day and night are transmitted to the suprachiasmatic nucleus via the retinohypothalamic tract.
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