60 YEARS OF NEUROENDOCRINOLOGY: Celebrating the brain's other output–input system and the monograph that defined neuroendocrinology

    1. Clive W Coen
    1. Reproductive Neurobiology, Division of Women's Health, School of Medicine, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, UK
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to C W Coen; Email: clive.coen{at}kcl.ac.uk


    The brain's unimaginably complex operations are expressed in just two types of output: muscle activity and hormone release. These are the means by which the brain acts beyond its bony casing. Muscle-mediated actions (such as speaking, writing, pupillary reflexes) send signals to the outside world that may convey thoughts, emotions or evidence of neurological disorder. The outputs of the brain as a hormone secreting gland are usually less evident. Their discovery required several paradigm shifts in our understanding of anatomy. The first occurred in 1655. Exactly 300 years later, Geoffrey Harris' monograph Neural control of the pituitary gland launched the scientific discipline that is now known as neuroendocrinology. His hypotheses have stood the test of time to a remarkable degree. A key part of his vision concerned the two-way ‘interplay between the central nervous system and endocrine glands’. Over the past 60 years, the importance of this reciprocity and the degree to which cerebral functions are influenced by the endocrine environment have become increasingly clear.

    • Received in final form 5 June 2015
    • Accepted 11 June 2015
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