Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a section of the brain responsible for hormone production. The hormones produced by this area of the brain govern body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, circadian rhythm, moods, sex drive, and the release of other hormones in the body. This area of the brain controls the pituitary gland and other glands in the body. This area of the brain is small, but involved in many necessary processes of the body including behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine functions. The hypothalamus' primary function is homeostasis, which is to maintain the body's status quo system-wide. Hypothalamic hormones include thyrotropin-releasing, gonadotropin-releasing, growth hormone-releasing, corticotrophin-releasing, somatostatin, and dopamine hormones. These hormones release into the blood through the capillaries, traveling to the pituitary gland where their effects are exerted. Oxytocin and vasopressin are also hypothalamic hormones. The hypothalamus uses a set-point to regulate the body's systems including electrolyte and fluid balance, body temperature, blood pressure, and body weight. It receives inputs from the body, then initiates compensatory changes if anything differentiates from this set-point. The set-point can migrate, but remains remarkably fixed from day-to-day.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Hypothalamus

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