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Credit: SEER Training Modules / U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute


About the size of a pearl, the hypothalamus directs a multitude of important functions in the body. It is the control center for many autonomic functions of the peripheral nervous system. Connections with structures of the endocrine and nervous systems enable the hypothalamus to play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. For example, blood vessel connections between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland allow hypothalamic hormones to control pituitary hormone secretion. As a limbic system structure, the hypothalamus also influences various emotional responses.


The hypothalamus is involved in several functions of the body including:
  • Autonomic Function Control
  • Endocrine Function Control
  • Homeostasis
  • Motor Function Control
  • Food and Water Intake Regulation
  • Sleep-Wake Cycle Regulation


Directionally, the hypothalamus is inferior to the thalamus. It is posterior to the optic chiasm and bordered on the sides by the temporal lobes and optic tracts.


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