Living organisms display a remarkable capacity to maintain a relatively constant internal milieu in the face of unrelenting challenges posed by the requirements of metabolism, and by an often hostile environment. This stability is assured by a series of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms that have become ever more complex during the course of evolution. In vertebrates, the central nervous system mediates a broad range of autonomic, endocrine, and behavioral responses that maintain homeostaÂ sis, and a great deal of work indicates that the hypothalamus, in particular, plays a critical role in the coordination of such responses (for recent reviews see Morgane & Panksepp 1980). In mammals, the hypothalamus is thought to regulate body temperature, the cardiovascular system, and the abdominal viscera, as well as ingestive behaviors that replenish nutrients and water, and sexual and maternal behaviors that assure survival of the species. The neural mechanisms underlying such adaptive responses have been difficult to unravel, and remain largely undefined in terms of specific anÂ tomical circuitry (Swanson & Mogenson 1981). This is due primarily to the fact that the hypothalamus, which is commonly regarded as the rostralmost part of the reticular formation, is a poorly differentiated region, with
Annual Review of Neuroscience – Annual Reviews
Published: Mar 1, 1983
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