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July 1958

Autonomic Imbalance and the Hypothalamus

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(1):131-132. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340070149022

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The avowed purpose of this monograph by Dr. Gellhorn, Professor of Neurophysiology at the University of Minnesota, is to define the theoretical significance of the clinical observations of Funkenstein on the methacholine (Mecholyl) test in neuropsychiatric patients.

The first two hundred pages of the volume are concerned with experimental evidence relating principally to the establishment of three concepts. The first is that the central reactivity of the autonomic system can be altered reflexly by means of an initial stimulus, and that this alteration can be detected by means of a test stimulus. "Reactivity" of the autonomic system is measured principally by the triumvirate of blood pressure, pulse rate, and nictitating-membrane contraction in the cat. It is shown, for example, that during acetylcholine- or histamine-induced hypotension (initial, or "tuning," stimulus), posterior hypothalamic stimulation (test stimulus) is more effective in producing sympathetic responses than during normotension. Sinoaortic denervation blocked this effect. In