Mechanisms for regulating food intake are still not clearly established, though it is understood that the hypothalamus plays a major role in these mechanisms. A cluster of neurons in the lateral hypothalamus function as an appetite center—meaning that impulses from them bring about increased appetite.

It is likely that a group of neurons in the ventral medial nucleus of the hypothalamus functions as a satiety center—meaning that impulses from these neurons decrease appetite so that we feel satiated or, “full.”

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The temperature of the blood circulating to the hypothalamus is important in regulating the action of these centers. Another factor is blood glucose concentration and the rate of glucose use.

The hypothalamus also produces several hormones and neurotransmitters that affect the feeding centers. Some appetite-altering hormones and neurotransmitters are produced in many other organs, such as the liver, adipose tissue, pancreas, GI tract, and vagal nerve. Of course, factors such as daily eating habits or patterns, emotional responses, the sensations of food, and many others must also be involved in regulating or affecting appetite.

19. Give one of the two ways in which metabolic rates can be expressed.

20. Name three of the factors that influence basal metabolic rate.

21. Distinguish between basal metabolic rate and total metabolic rate.

22. In which division of the brain would you find the control center for regulating food intake?


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