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What Is the Connection Between the Hypothalamus and Temperature?

The human body has a built in temperature control system that is regulated by the hypothalamus.
If the hypothalamus decides to adjust body temperature, is makes orders using endocrine hormones.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mark Wollacott
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The connection between the hypothalamus and temperature is that the hypothalamus regulates body temperature. The hypothalamus receives information from the body and other parts of the brain. It then sends out appropriate responses to trigger body reactions. The anterior region of the hypothalamus cools the body and the posterior region heats it. Damage to either region can cause problems for the body.

The hypothalamus is a region of the brain directly below the thalamus, hence the prefix “hypo,” meaning “below.” It is a compact area of neuron clusters. These clusters form nuclei, each of which has a particular function. The overall function of the hypothalamus is homeostasis. This means regulating the body in order to maintain the status quo.

There are a number of elements maintained by the hypothalamus and temperature is one of them. Others include blood pressure, liquid balance and electrical balance. In each instance, a part of the hypothalamus is dedicated to regulating that part of the process and to make the necessary changes to maintain a balance.

The ideal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). The hypothalamus receives heat data from a number of sources. This includes heat receptors on the skin to give a sense of the outside temperature. It also receives data from steroids, blood stimuli and pheromones. If the hypothalamus decides the body needs to adjust its temperature, it makes orders using neural projections and endocrine hormones.

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The anterior region plays an important role in connecting the hypothalamus and temperature. The anterior region reacts when the body is too hot. Its dominant function is to cool the body. It uses sweat as its primary response. It is also able to reduce the metabolic rate, open the blood vessels, close pores and reduce blood pressure.

At the back of the hypothalamus is the posterior region. The posterior region connects the hypothalamus and temperature by reacting when the body is too cold. Its first reaction is to make the body shiver. It is also able to raise the metabolic rate, increase the heart rate and mobilize the carbohydrate reserve. It is also able to raise blood pressure by constricting blood vessels.

Damage to the brain could affect the hypothalamus and temperature control is one of the areas that can be harmed. Naturally, damage to the anterior region will compromise the body’s ability to cool itself, and damage to the posterior hurts the body's ability to heat itself. Damage to other parts of the hypothalamus can disrupt its ability to receive and process data.

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