Cortical, thalamic, and hypothalamic responses to cooling and warming the skin in awake humans: a positron-emission tomography study.

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Egan, GF; Johnson, J; Farrell, M; McAllen, R; Zamarripa, F; McKinley, MJ; Lancaster, J; Denton, D; Fox, PT
Year of Publication: 2005
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Volume: 102
Number: 14
Pagination: 5262-7
Date Published: Apr 5
Publisher: United States
Publication Language: eng
Accession Number: 15793009
Keywords: Adult, Afferent Pathways/physiology, Body Temperature Regulation/*physiology, Cerebral Cortex/*physiology/radionuclide imaging, Efferent Pathways/physiology, Female, Hemodynamics, Humans, Hypothalamus/*physiology/radionuclide imaging, Male, Positron-Emiss

Thermoregulatory mechanisms are remarkably efficient, ensuring minimal temperature variation within the core of the human body under physiological conditions. Diverse afferent and efferent neural pathways contribute to the monitoring of core and skin temperature, generation of heat, and control of thermal exchange with the external environment. We have investigated the cortical, thalamic, and hypothalamic responses to cooling and warming by using positron-emission tomography activation imaging of subjects clad in a water-perfused suit, which enabled rapid change of their skin-surface temperature. Human brain regions that respond to changes in skin temperature have been identified in the somatosensory cortex, insula, anterior cingulate, thalamus, and hypothalamus, with evidence that the hypothalamic response codes for the direction of temperature change. We conclude that signals from thermosensors in the skin providing crucial afferent information to the brain are integrated with signals from central thermosensors, resulting in thermoregulatory responses that maintain core temperature within a remarkably narrow range.


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Apr 5;102(14):5262-7. Epub 2005 Mar 25.

Author Address:

Howard Florey Institute and Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.