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May 25, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(21):2092-2095. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810210024008

"One gains the impression that, consistently with its primitive place in the evolution of the brain, the hypothalamus contains the mechanisms of the more primitive psychic and emotional reactions. It plays a part in conditioning moods of elation and depression, and their expression in laughter or weeping. It is concerned with reactions of defence, aggression, suspicion, fear, anger, sex. It ignores refinements of decency and convention, if isolated from the control of its better educated instructor the frontal cortex, which seems to exercise an inhibitory influence on its cruder yet vitally important functions. The exact clinical picture evoked depends no doubt upon the exact pattern of the lesion."

This sketch of some hypothalamic functions was written by a neurologic surgeon, Norman Dott. He continued his statement by saying that we possess little knowledge of the detailed anatomic arrangement of hypothalamic mechanism. However, this idea is so much understated as to

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