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The hypothalamus is a small region of the brain between the thalamus and the midbrain. The hypothalamus preserves body homeostasis by coordinating somatic, autonomic, and endocrine activity associated with ingestive, reproductive, and defensive behaviors. The hypothalamus also controls the alternation of wakefulness and sleep and is necessary for coordinated circadian rhythms and their entrainment by ambient light. This allows organisms to anticipate regular environmental changes, such as dawn and dusk, and better exploit environmental resources that are selectively available during daytime or nighttime. Moreover, the hypothalamus plays important roles in thermoregulation (i.e., maintenance of the body’s core temperature), energy homeostasis (i.e., energy balance), and cardiovascular regulation. Overall, the hypothalamus is critical to ensure the survival of the individual and the species. This entry provides ...

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