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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1896, coined 1893 in German from Greek hypo- "under" (see sub-) + thalamus "part of the brain where a nerve emerges."


n. (context anatomy English) A region of the forebrain located below the thalamus, forming the basal portion of the diencephalon, and functioning to regulate body temperature, some metabolic processes and governing the autonomic nervous system.

  1. n. a basal part of the diencephalon governing autonomic nervous system

  2. [also: hypothalami (pl)]


The hypothalamus (from Greek ὑπό, "under" and θάλαμος, thalamus) is a portion of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a variety of functions. One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland (hypophysis).

The hypothalamus is located below the thalamus and is part of the limbic system. In the terminology of neuroanatomy, it forms the ventral part of the diencephalon. All vertebrate brains contain a hypothalamus. In humans, it is the size of an almond.

The hypothalamus is responsible for certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and secretes certain neurohormones, called releasing hormones or hypothalamic hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of pituitary hormones. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviors, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms.

Usage examples of "hypothalamus".

At least some of the emotion-determining role of such limbic endocrine systems as the pituitary amygdala, and hypothalamus is provided by small hormonal proteins which they exude, and which affect other areas of the brain.

Some small hypothalamic proteins have been identified tentatively in the third ventricle of the brain, which connects the hypothalamus with the thalamus, a region also within the limbic system.

The plug was snapped into a jack surgically implanted in her skull, and from the jack tiny wires snaked their way through the wet jelly to the hypothalamus, to the specific place in the medial forebrain bundle where the major pleasure center of her brain was located.

In the lower animals, the VNO sends messages along special nerves not only to the cortex but directly to the hypothalamus, where the emotions and reproduction are regulated.

Their only effect is on the vomeronasal organs in the septum of the nose and, from there, on the hypothalamus of the brainunconscious, insidious, and subversiveif there is any effect on the brain at all.

T cells is starting a process which ends up with your hypothalamus turning up the thermostat.

The wildest struggles of his delirium, when the helico virus had raged in his hypothalamus, had not sufficed for him to break the leather thongs securing his wrists and ankles.

Psych that sometimes the sensory receptors send impulses straight to the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, bypassing the hypothalamus, which processes and relays the information to the brain.

Other symptoms--poor sleep, appetite, and sex drive--are regulated by the hypothalamus, so it may be malfunctioning.

The real question is: What causes the stress or the neurotransmitter or the hypothalamus changes?

The stages in the procedure had been established, and soon it began to look very much as if the trail was leading back through the hypothalamus to the higher brain centres.

It did not seem that any of the jelly of her hypothalamus had been boiled away.

The ultrasonics produced by the tactile pigments operated directly on the hypothalamus, promoting sudden changes in serotonin concentrations and levels.

The autopsy revealed a small tumor in his hypothalamus, which some experts say could have contributed to his rampage, while others claim it could not.

Natural sleep cycles wander all over the clock without a photoperiod to calibrate the hypothalamus.