Lateral hypothalamic syndrome

Stephen Black sblack at UBISHOPS.CA
Tue Jan 21 11:39:49 EST 1997

On 19 Jan 1997, F. Frank LeFever wrote:
> LHS was a hot item 30-35 years ago (e.g. in J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol.)
> but doubt a Medline search  (especially if limited to Ovid disk) would
> turn up much--wrong time, wrong journals.
> I'd welcome the most recent reference and/or the most through OLD
> reference, OR your personal experience as a brain surgeon on rats!
> I'm especially interested in the exact details of the anorexia and/or
> finickiness of the rats.  It was said that they COULD be coaxed to eat
> with a "palatable" diet (and then through graded steps to
> self-sustained eating with a "normal"  diet).
> What EXACTLY is "palatable"?  Chocolate has been mentioned, and I
> coaxed one rat along with chocolate covered halvah, but do you know of
> systematic studies on the defining characteristics?  (sweetness?
> moistness? other??)

The topic may be old, but it's not dead yet, as indicated by a recent 
review by Winn (1995). In my day, we nursed these rats back to survival 
using a commercial brand of liquid diet marketed for dieters (chocolate 
"Metrecal"), together with chocolate chip cookies. An old story I heard 
was to the effect that Teitelbaum first used a brand of egg-nog donated 
by a local dairy, but his supply was cut off when he made an offhand 
remark at a conference about how terrible the stuff tasted to him. it's 
probably not true, but he does mention the use of an evaporated 
milk-sugar solution diet in his original report (Teitelbaum and Stellar, 

A later idea was that the LH syndrome paralleled development in 
infancy ("reencephalization of function"; see Teitelbaum et al, 1969).
This seems to have resulted in the suggestion that an infant food such as 
pablum be used to recover these rats. I believe an explicit suggestion 
along these lines was made in print, possibly in a review article by 
Edward Stricker, but I haven't been able to find it. Nevertheless, at 
least one study (Zigmond and Stricker, 1973) does report the use of 
"highly palatable foods, such as Pablum, Metrecal, and sucrose solution".

One final observation is that in the 1970's Richard Keesey initiated an 
attack on the classic stages of recovery as described by Teitelbaum and 
Epstein. According to Keesey (e.g. see Keesy et al, 1976), the recovery 
stages were an artifact or illusory, and using special diets and 
tube-feeding merely prolonged the period of inanition. Instead Keesey 
argued that the rat would not begin feeding until its weight had dropped 
to a new low value which was determined by the extent of brain damage. 
Tube-feeding merely slowed the weight-loss until the critical set-point 
was reached.

This was an interesting idea. However, I always felt that the evidence 
that Keesey provided in support of this claim was open to criticism, and 
not as convincing as it might have been. I still don't know whether 
tube-feeding and special diets are actually helpful.


Keesey, R., et al (1976). Prolonging lateral hypothalmic anorexia bu
  tube-feeding. Physiology and Behavior, 17, 367-371.

Teitelbaum, P., & Stellar, E. (1954). Recovery from the failure to eat
  produced by hypothalamic lesions. Science, 120, 894--

Zigmond, M., and Srticker, E. (1973). Recovery of feeding and drinking
  by rats after intraventricular 6-hydroxydopamine or lateral hypothalamic
  lesions. Science, 182, 717-720

Winn, P. (1995). The lateral hypothalamus and motivated behavior: an old
  sydrome reassessed and a new perspective gained. Current Directions in
  Psychological Science, 4, 182--

Teitelbaum, P. et al (1969). Development of feeding parallels its recovery
  after hypothalamic damge. Journal of comparative and physiological
  psychology, 67, 430-441


Stephen Black, Ph.D.                      tel: (819) 822-9600 ext 2470
Department of Psychology                  fax: (819) 822-9661
Bishop's University                    e-mail: sblack at
Lennoxville, Quebec               
J1M 1A9                                                                 

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list