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What is the function of the hypothalamus?

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Quick Answer

The functions of the hypothalamus include the secretion of neurohormones, often termed as hypothalamic-releasing hormones, such as growth-releasing hormones and dopamine hormones. These hypothalamic-releasing hormones stimulate or inhibit the secretion of pituitary hormones.

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Full Answer

The hypothalamus plays a part in maintaining homeostasis in the body, regulating such things as pH balance, temperature control, blood pressure and respiration. The hypothalamus is also involved in autonomic function control, endocrine function control and motor function control. It controls hunger and thirst, and the intake of food and water. It also regulates fatigue and sleep and wake cycles, as well as controlling defensive behaviors.

The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that connects the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. It is also connected to some parts of the central nervous system, such as the brainstem. It forms part of the limbic system and links to limbic structures such as the amygdale and septum. It is also connected with areas of the autonomous nervous system.

The hypothalamus contains many small nuclei and fiber tracts. The two major nuclei are the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. The cells in these two nuclei secrete the hormones vasopressin, oxytocin, antidiuretic hormone and corticotrophin-releasing hormone.

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