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Humans, like other mammals and birds, are homoiothermic - warm-blooded - and so maintain their body temperature within a narrow limits despite variations in the external temperature. The advantage of the homoiothermic state may be that critical enzymes in the body's metabolism work optimally at around normal average body temperature: 37 degrees centigrade.

The maintenance of a small range of temperature is a good example of a homeostatic physiological control system. At its most basic level, a cerebral integrative centre samples the body temperature at several sites, compares this value with a desired set point, and modulates heat production and heat loss accordingly.

Last reviewed 01/2018