The hypothalamus is made of 3 regions that perform vital functions like hormone release, appetite control, and body temperature regulation. You can keep your hypothalamus healthy with diet, exercise, and sleep.
The hypothalamus is a small region of the brain. It’s located at the base of the brain, near the pituitary gland.
While it’s very small, the hypothalamus plays a crucial role in many important functions, including:
- releasing hormones
- maintaining daily physiological cycles
- controlling appetite
- managing sexual behavior
- regulating emotional responses
- regulating body temperature
Use this interactive 3-D diagram to explore the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus has three main regions. Each one contains different nuclei. Nuclei are clusters of neurons that perform vital functions.
The anterior region is also called the supraoptic region. Its major nuclei include the supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus. There are several other smaller nuclei in the anterior region as well.
The nuclei in the anterior region are largely involved in the secretion of various hormones. Many of these hormones interact with the nearby pituitary gland to produce additional hormones.
The anterior region of the hypothalamus also helps regulate body temperature through sweat.
It also maintains circadian rhythms, which are physical and behavioral changes that occur on a daily cycle. For example, being awake during the day and sleeping at nighttime is a circadian rhythm related to the presence or absence of light. Learn more about the circadian rhythm and sleep.
The middle region is also called the tuberal region. Its major nuclei are the arcuate nucleus and ventromedial nucleus. Part of the paraventricular nucleus is also located here.
The arcuate nucleus is involved in appetite and releasing growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH). The ventromedial nucleus also helps regulate appetite and growth.
The posterior region is also called the mammillary region. The posterior hypothalamic nucleus and mammillary nucleus are its main nuclei.
The posterior hypothalamic nucleus helps regulate body temperature by causing shivering and blocking sweat production.
The mammillary nucleus is involved in memory function.