Notes on Hypothalamus

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Part of the diencephalon and sited at the lower part of the lateral wall and floor of the third ventricle. Located below the thalamus and weighs about 4 grams. Separated macroscopically from the thalamus by the hypothalamic sulcus and lies in front of the interpeduncular nuclei. There are prominent neural connections (portal hypophyseal vessels) with the posterior lobe of the pituitary (hypothalamohypophyseal tract) and vascular connections with the anterior lobe i.e. hypothalamic control of the pituitary.


1. Mammillary region (includes mammillary bodies).

2. Tuberal region (tuber cinereum, and infundibulum).

3. Supraoptic region (superior to optic chiasm).

4. Preoptic region.

Important Hypothalamic Regulatory Functions: Homeostasis

1. Temperature regulation (thermoregulation).

2. Neuroendocrine hormonal control of: Catecholamines, vasopressin, oxytocin, TSH, ACTH, FSH, LH, prolactin, GH (by releasing and inhibiting hormones RH/IH) ie regulation of hormonal release from the pituitary gland (hypophysis) ie control of the pituitary gland.

3. Appetite control (thirst, hunger) ie eating and drinking (saiety and feeding centre).

4. Sexual behaviour, blood circulation.

5. Defense reactions (fear, rage); sleep wake cycle, aggression, pleasure, defense mechanisms ie regulator of emotional and behavioural patterns.

6. Anterior hypothalamus: regulates parasympathetic functions.

7. Posterior hypothalamus: regulates sympathetic functions.

8. Supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei are the principle producers of oxytocin and vasopressin (ADH).

9. Regulation of diurnal rhythms and states of consciousness - especially the suprachiasmatic nucleus that establishes patterns of sleep.

Afferent and Efferent Hypothalamic Connections:

1. Connections with limbic system, nuclei of the midbrain tegmentum, thalamus, lenticular nucleus, mammillary nuclei, reticular parts of midbrain.

2. Tracts: Medial forebrain bundle, fornix, stria terminalis, mammillary peduncle, rhinohypothalamic fibres, etc.

Hypothalamic Relations:

1. Superior: Hypothalamic sulcus.

2. Inferior: Optic chiasm, tuber cinereum, mammilary bodies, median eminence and infundibulum.

3. Anterior: Lamina terminalis.

4. Posterior: Midbrain tegmentum.

5. Medial: 3rd ventricle.

6. Lateral: Internal capsule.

Hypothalamic Nuclei:

1. Anterior: supraoptic, preoptic, suprachiasmatic, paraventricular.

2. Middle (tuberal): infundibular, lateral, dorsal, dorso and ventromedial, posterior.

3. Posterior: Mammilary, posterior.

Further Topics on Subcortical Grey Matter:

1. Notes on Thalamus
2. Notes on Pineal Gland
3. Notes on Hypothalamus
4. Notes on Limbic System
5. Notes on Pituitary Gland
6. Notes on Basal Nuclei
7. Amygdaloid Body and Temporal Lobe

Additional Reading:

Basic Neurology

1. Peripheral Nervous System
2. Central Nervous System
3. The Ventricular System
4. The Spinal Cord
5. The Brain Stem
6. The Cerebellum
7. Visual Pathways
8. Diencephalon
9. Basal Ganglia
10. Cerebral Cortex
11. Sleep Disorders
12. Autonomic Nervous System
13. Cranial Nerves and Parasympathetic Ganglia
14. Cells of the Nervous System
15. Cerebrospinal fluid
16. Additional short notes on Cerebrum
17. Functions and Diseases of Cerebrum
18. Subcortical Grey Matter
19. Notes on The Spinal Cord
20. Regulation of Heart Rate by Autonomic Nervous System
21. Action Potentials, Axon Conduction, and Neuromuscular Junction
22. Types of Seizures
23. What is a Cough Reflex?
24. Notes on Congenital Prosopagnosia
25. Findings in Parkinson's Disease
26. Types of Heat Strokes
27. Types of Strokes
28. What is Benign Intracranial Hypertension?
29. What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
30. Cranial Nerve Locations in Brain Stem
31. What is a Cluster Headache?
32. What is a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage?
33. What is a Tension Headache?

Neurology Videos

1. Video of Neurology Examination in a Clinical Setting

Medical Images

Useful Medical Images & Diagrams (link opens in a new window)

Related Topics

1. Nervous System Disorders
2. Histology of Nervous Tissue
3. Cranial Nerve Reflexes
4. Motor System Examination

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