The hypothalamus is an almond shaped endocrine gland located just beneath the thalamus. The size of this gland is no match to the colossal responsibilities administered by it that in turn keeps an individual healthy. Working as a link between the endocrine system and the nervous system via the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus indeed has a role to play in some of the most significant aspects of the human body such as regulation of temperature of the body, blood pressure, balance of the electrolytes, and weight of the body.
All these functions falling under the broad head of homeostasis are conducted by specific domains within the hypothalamus. While the anterior and posterior lobes of the hypothalamus look into the regulation of body temperature; the water equilibrium within the human body is maintained by the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. The thermoreceptors and the cutaneous thermoreceptors within the hypothalamus aid in triggering the appropriate thermolytic or thermogenic response essential for temperature control. As for the water balance, the elevation and plunge in the level of salt within the blood is perceived by the osmoreceptors located in the hypothalamus. This detection influences the release or inhibition of the flow of vasopressin in the neurohypophysis capillaries.
The lateral part of the hypothalamus is involved in the stimulation of hunger. The decrease and increase in the level of blood sugar is gauged by the glucostatic receptors and communicated to specific regions within the hypothalamus; thereby stimulating the responses of hunger and fullness respectively. The suprachiasmatic nucleus located in the anterior hypothalamus controls another cardinal function that is regulation of the biological clock. The awareness of day and night are transmitted to the suprachiasmatic nucleus via the retinohypothalamic tract.
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