Biology

Weird Things You Didn't Know About the Hypothalamus 

Michael Graff
Updated November 6, 2017 34.8k views 20 items

For most of us, it's difficult to imagine the complexity of our own human biology. In our day-to-day lives, we aren't conscious of the millions of cells working together in concert to let us do even the simplest tasks like eating, walking, or talking. And we're even less aware of what our body does that's beyond our direct volition.

This list celebrates just one of the many unsung heroic organs that make our body function, the hypothalamus. It's a tiny part of your brain that plays an enormous role in keeping the body running normally.

Want to learn more hypothalamus facts? Continue reading to answer, what is the hypothalamus? and what does the hypothalamus do?
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In Humans, It's About the Size of an Almond
In Humans, It's About th... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Weird Things You Didn't Know About the Hypothalamus
Photo: HealthAliciousNess/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
You may now feel free to imagine an almond stuck inside your head. Though if you could be consciously aware of the whole array of structures and organs in your brain, that might be pretty disconcerting, too. But don't worry: if you don't find yourself noticing it, that means everything should be working normally.
It’s Different in Males and Females
It’s Different in Males ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Weird Things You Didn't Know About the Hypothalamus
Photo: Thomas Rousing/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
The hypothalamus is subject to sexual dimorphism. In other words, it's an organ than has structural differences in males and females. Studies have shown that one particular hypothalamic nucleus (conveniently called the sexually dimorphic nucleus, or SDN) loses a greater number of cells but at a more advanced age in human females. The male SDN loses cells at earlier ages.
All Mammalian Vertebrates Have One
All Mammalian Vertebrate... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Weird Things You Didn't Know About the Hypothalamus
Photo: Pauline Guilmot/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
This means that any kind of animal with a spine that gives birth to live young has a hypothalamus as part of their brain, from the lions and tigers and bears in the jungle, to the cats and dogs in your house. Among animals, the hypothalamus tends to be larger in males.
It Keeps You Balanced
It Keeps You Balanced is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Weird Things You Didn't Know About the Hypothalamus
Photo: Rosmarie Voegtli/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
So what exactly does it do? The hypothalamus is most directly responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a state of internal healthy consistency and balance in the body. It takes care of a whole number of bodily functions and conditions that you don't have to think about.