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By Dr. Mudassar Ali Roomi (MBBS, M.Phil.)

Assistant Professor Physiology

it is the part of diencephalon which is below the hypothalamic sulcus.

Hypothalamus is the Major Control Headquarters for the Limbic System


It forms the anteroinferior wall and the floor of the third ventricle. It extends from optic chiasma to mamillary body




Three groups of nuclei: Anteriotr or Preoptic group : lateral and medial preoptic nuclei, suproptic nucleus, suprachiasmatic nucleus, paraventricular nucleus and anterior nucleus. Middle or Tuberal: Ventromedial, dorsomedial, arcuate or tuberal nucleus, posterior and lateral nuclei. Posterior or Mammillary: supramammillary, premammillary, medial and lateral mammillary nuclei.

Nuclei of hypothalamus


1. 2. 3. 4. Amygdala and Hippocampus Reticular formation of brainstem Nucleus of tractus solitarius Locus ceruleus: these secrete norepinehrine at the nerve endings Raphe magnus nucleus: these secrete serotonin at their nerve endings Afferents from the sensory pathways retina Thalamic nuclei Frontal cortex Globus pallidus and Lentiform nucleus (basal ganglia)

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Amygdala and Hippocampus Frontal cortex Nucleus of tractus solitarius mid brain Reticular formation of brainstem Spinal cord Nervous connections with posterior pituitary and vascular connections with the anterior pituitary

Nervous connections with posterior pituitary and vascular connections with the anterior pituiatory:
Supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei of hypothalamus secrete ADH and oxytocin. These hormones are transported along with their carrier proteins along the nerve fibers to the posterior pituitary where they are stored. These are the hormones of hypothalamoneurohypophyseal system. In the median eminence and infundibulum of the hypothalamus, there are sinusoids. Blood from these sinusoids pass through the hypophyseal portal blood vessels and these pass through the or communicate with the capillary plexus in the anterior pituitary.


2. 3. 4. 5.

Secretion of posterior pituiatry hormones (paraventricular and supraoptic nucleus) Control of anterior pituitary (discrete areas) Control of adrenal cortex (paraventricular nucleus) Regulation of heart rate and blood pressure (posterior, lateral and anterior hypothalamus) Regulation of sleep and wakefulness (ant. Hypothalamus and mamillary body) Role in behaviour and emotional changes (ventromedial, post and lateral nuclei)
1. 2. 3. Reward centre: in ventromedial nucleus Punishment centre: Post. And lateral nuclei Rage centre: Post. And lateral nuclei.

7. 8.

Regulation of response to smell (post. hypothalamus) Role of circadian rhythm (suprachiasmatic n, supraoptic and ant. nuclei)

9. Control of autonomic nervous system

stimulation of posterior and lateral hypothalamus results into sympathetic responses such as increase in the heart rate and blood pressure, pupillary dilatation, piloerection, secretion of catecholamines from adrenal medulla and hyperglycemia. Stimulation of anterior hypothalamus (preoptic area) results into parasympathetic responses such as slowing of heart rate and fall in blood pressure, papillary constriction, contraction of urinary bladder, GIT motility and secretions. in addition hypothalamus is also a relay station in the pathway of sympathetic cholinergic nerves which produce vasodilatation in skeletal muscle and sweating.

10. Control of water balance of the body

water balance is maintained through the control of water intake and excretion through the kidney. When the thirst centre in lateral hypothalamus is stimulated, there is conscious desire to take water and fluids. Thirst centre is stimulated when there is increased osmolarity of ECF, Hypovolemia and also by angiotensin II. In the anterior hypothalamus, there are osmoreceptors which are specialized neurons which respond to changes in osmolarity. Water excretion is controlled by ADH. Stimuli which secrete ADH may be osmotic or volume. If there is hyperosmolarity or Hypovolemia, there is secretion of ADH. These stimuli will act on hypothalamus and ADH is released which acts on the distal parts of renal tubules to reabsorb water.

11. Control of uterine contraction and milk ejection

oxytocin is synthesized in hypothalamus, mainly the paraventricular nuclei. Oxytocin causes uterine contraction to help in the child birth. In the second stage of labor there are high levels of oxytocin. In milk ejection (milk letdown) there is role of oxytocin. The baby suckles breast of the mother, impulses from the receptor around nipples go to the hypothalamus and then there is release of oxytocin from post. pituitary. Oxytocin causes contraction of myo-epithelial cells as a result of which milk is ejected from the breast. This is a neuroendocrinal reflex. Afferent part is nervous and efferent is endocrine.

12. Control of food intake or hunger

in the lateral hypothalamus, there is a feeding centre or hunger centre. When this centre is stimulated there is desire to take food and there is hunger. Activity of the feeding centre is controlled by a satiety centre in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. When satiety centre is active, feeding centre is inhibited. When satiety centre is inactive, feeding centre is activated.

12. Control of food intake or hunger (cont)

Glucostat mechanism: In the satiety centre, neurons are called glucostat cells. Glucose uptake in the glucostat cells depends upon the presence of adequate concentration of insulin. In almost all brain cells glucose uptake dont require insulin except glucostat cells in satiety centre. In uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, there is polyphagia and increased appetite because of inactivity of satiety centre because there is less insulin as result of which there is overactivity of feeding centre resulting in polyphagia. Lipostatic mechanism: through leptin. Mammillary bodies in the hypothalamus control feeding reflexes such as swallowing and licking of the lips.

13. Regulation of body temperature

Heat loss centre: in the preoptic nucleus of ant. hypothalamus there is a centre which regulate the temperature. When temperature of the body increases with respect to thermostat in the hypothalamus, various temperature decreasing mechanisms are initiated which include cutaneous vasodilatation and sweating. Heat gain centre: When body temperature decreases with respect to thermostat, various temperature increasing mechanisms are initiated and these include cutaneous vasoconstriction, shivering and later on there is chemical thermogenesis. Shivering centre is located in posterior hypothalamus.

1. Central Diabetes insipidus: may be because of tumor or damage to hypothalamus.

Laurence-Moon-Beidl Syndrome
moon face, obesity, polydactylism, mental retardation, hypogentalism.

Dystrophia adipogentalis (Frohlichs syndrome): obesity, sexual infantalism, dwarfism.

Narcolepsy: sudden uncontrollable desire for sleep during daytime. Cataplexy: sudden uncontroled outburts of emotions associated with narcolepsy.

Major part of the diencephalon Medial wall makes the lateral wall of the 3rd ventricle Lateral surface is separated from lentiform nucleus by internal capsule It is divide into 3 parts by a Y-shaped internal medullary lamina: anterior, medial and lateral parts.

Main nuclei in three parts of THALAMUS


Anterior part:
Anterior thalamic nuclei


Medial part:
Dorsomedial nucleus


Lateral part:
Dorsal group:
Lateral dorsal Lateral posterior pulvinar Ventral anterior Ventral lateral Ventral posterior (VPL,VPM)

Ventral group:

VENTRAL POSTROLATERAL (VPL): receives nerve fibers from main sensory tracts (DCMLS, ALS) through medial and spinal leminisci. *** VENTRAL POSTROMEDDIAL (VPM): Receives fibers from trigeminal and gustatory pathway. ***

Functions of thalamus
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Main or principal sensory relay station*** Subcortical centre for pain*** Centre for sexual sensations. Thalamus helps to maintain the level of alertness and consciousness Anterior thalamic of limibic system*** Also involved in the control of motor activity Involved in long-term memory process Involved in sleep mechanism

Thalamic syndrome
Due to degenration of ventral posterior (VPL, VPM) part of the thalamus resulting from thrombosis in a branch of posterior cerebral artery. Anterior and medial nuclei remain intact Features fo thalamic syndrome:
2. 3.

5. 6.

Loss of all the somatic sensations from contralateral side of the body (touch, pain, temperature, proprioception, vibration) Ataxia due to loss of proprioception Astereognosis (inability to recognize the objects by the feel of their texture with closed eyes) Spontaneous burning or aching pain (resistant to analgesic drugs) Hyperalgesia (inc. pain sensitivity) Amelognosia (illusion that limb is absent)