What Are the Different Parts of the Hypothalamus?

Jennifer Long
Jennifer Long
The hypothalamus is a small organ of the brain that maintains homeostasis.
The hypothalamus is a small organ of the brain that maintains homeostasis.

The hypothalamus has three parts: the anterior, tuberal, and posterior. Each part plays its own role in the overall functions and responsibilities of the endocrine system. General responsibilities include joining the endocrine system and nervous system. Most importantly, this small part of the brain maintains homeostasis, which is maintaining suitable conditions the body needs to function properly.

The hypothalamus regulates sleep cycles.
The hypothalamus regulates sleep cycles.

Although the hypothalamus is a small organ in the brain, it has large tasks to perform. It is shaped like a cone and is located above the brainstem, under the thalamus. This part stretches downward until it meets with the infundibular stalk, which is a tube that is joined to the pituitary gland. In general, this organ has multiple functions that are broken down into each of the three parts.

The hypothalamus is responsible for linking the endocrine system and nervous system.
The hypothalamus is responsible for linking the endocrine system and nervous system.

Due to how the hypothalamus is connected to multiple areas of the central nervous system and limbic forebrain, it must adjust according to different signals, both internal and external. Olfactory stimulation often affects endocrine hormones. Glucorticoids and steroids influence responses such as appetite or thirst. Exposure to daylight is an obvious signal; it helps regulate the sleep and wake cycle.

The posterior hypothalamus allows the body to shiver.
The posterior hypothalamus allows the body to shiver.

The anterior region of the hypothalamus is located in the front and is responsible for several functions. It is a crucial part of thermoregulation, which is the regulation of the body's temperature. Thermoregulation is controlled through sweating and panting. Sleep and circadian cycles are also regulated by the anterior region.

In the middle of the hypothalamus, the tuberal region is found. This part is in charge of thirst and hunger. The tuberal region also controls blood pressure and heart rate. Growth regulating hormones and dopamine production are regulated by this region as well.

On the back of the hypothalamus is the posterior region. Increases in blood pressure, shivering, and pupil dilation are controlled by this area. Memory functions are also influenced by this region.

The tuberal region of the hypothalamus controls hunger.
The tuberal region of the hypothalamus controls hunger.

As a whole, the hypothalamus controls many important bodily functions. Neurohormones are controlled and released by this little organ in the brain. Through these hormones, pituitary gland activity is controlled, as well as the metabolic processes of the whole autonomic nervous system.

In addition to the hormones and control of the metabolic aspects, the hypothalamus also controls and releases hormones that influence the endocrine system. Endocrine hormones are sent to the pituitary gland and play a role in certain behaviors that are based on emotions, such as anger, anxiety or fear, and sexual activities.

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    • The hypothalamus is a small organ of the brain that maintains homeostasis.
      By: Balint Radu
      The hypothalamus is a small organ of the brain that maintains homeostasis.
    • The hypothalamus regulates sleep cycles.
      By: Konstantin Yuganov
      The hypothalamus regulates sleep cycles.
    • The hypothalamus is responsible for linking the endocrine system and nervous system.
      By: stockshoppe
      The hypothalamus is responsible for linking the endocrine system and nervous system.
    • The posterior hypothalamus allows the body to shiver.
      By: Kalani
      The posterior hypothalamus allows the body to shiver.
    • The tuberal region of the hypothalamus controls hunger.
      By: nebari
      The tuberal region of the hypothalamus controls hunger.