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What does the Pineal gland do?

I heard is was mythical/just labled grey matter as an unknown.. Back in the days it was said to be the gateway to the sixth sense. So now … after a google search is says it’s for hormones and keeps the young from developing to early.. As this gland is fixed in the most protective part of the brain.. it’s hard to follow that simple idea without pause. This was what I found from a google search… curious..

3 COMMENTS

  1. Originally scientists thought this was a vestigial organ; however, it was later discovered that the pineal gland regulates functions in the endocrine system. It also secretes the hormone melatonin which is associated with sleep.

  2. “Back in the days” it’s function was unknown ,along with the thymus.
    I recall being told that it was some kind of vestigial “third eye”.
    A substance, identified as a hormone, called melantonin (not to be confused with melanin) has been isolated from it. The role of melantonin
    in humans appears to have something to do with sleep patterns and sexual development.
    Another substance, pinoline, has also been identified from the pineal:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinoline

  3. The pineal gland was originally believed to be a “vestigial remnant” of a larger organ. As early as 1917 it was known that extract of cow pineals lightened frog skin. Dermatology professor Aaron B. Lerner and colleagues at Yale University, in the hope that a substance from the pineal might be useful in treating skin diseases, isolated and named the hormone melatonin in 1958.[11] The substance did not prove to be helpful as intended, but its discovery helped solve several mysteries such as the fact that the removal of the rat’s pineal accelerated ovary growth, keeping rats in constant light decreased the weight of their pineals, and that both pinealectomy and constant light affect ovary growth to an equal extent, knowledge that gave a boost to the then new field of chronobiology.
    Melatonin is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which also has other functions in the central nervous system. The production of melatonin by the pineal gland is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light.[13] Photosensitive cells in the retina detect light and directly signal the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), entraining its rhythm to the 24-hour cycle in nature. Fibers project from the SCN to the paraventricular nuclei (PVN), which relay the circadian signals to the spinal cord and out via the sympathetic system to superior cervical ganglia (SCG), and from there into the pineal gland. The function(s) of melatonin in humans is not clear; it is commonly prescribed for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
    The compound pinoline is also produced in the pineal gland; it is one of the beta-carbolines.
    The human pineal gland grows in size until about 1—2 years of age, remaining stable thereafter, although its weight increases gradually from puberty onwards . The abundant melatonin levels in children is believed to inhibit sexual development, and pineal tumors have been linked with precocious puberty. When puberty arrives, melatonin production is reduced. Calcification of the pineal gland is typical in adults.
    In animals, the pineal gland appears to play a major role in sexual development, hibernation, metabolism, and seasonal breeding.
    Pineal cytostructure seems to have evolutionary similarities to the retinal cells of chordates.[18] Modern birds and reptiles have been found to express the phototransducing pigment melanopsin in the pineal gland. Avian pineal glands are believed to act like the suprachiasmatic nucleus in mammals.
    Studies suggest that in rodents the pineal gland may influence the actions of recreational drugs, such as cocaine, and antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac),and its hormone melatonin can protect against neurodegeneration.

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