AQA GCSE Biology

Revision Notes

5.2.6 Control of Body Temperature

Monitoring of Body Temperature

  • The human body needs to maintain a temperature at which enzymes work best, around 37°C
  • Processes such as respiration release energy as heat; and the body loses heat energy to its surroundings – the energy gained and lost must be regulated to maintain a constant core body temperature
  • Body temperature is monitored and controlled by the thermoregulatory centre in the brain
  • The thermoregulatory centre contains receptors sensitive to the temperature of the blood
  • The skin contains temperature receptors and sends nervous impulses to the thermoregulatory centre

A cross-section of human skin, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Human skin contains structures involved in processes that can increase or reduce heat loss to the surroundings

Controlling Body Temperature

  • If the body temperature is too high, blood vessels dilate (vasodilation) and sweat is produced from the sweat glands
  • Both these mechanisms cause a transfer of energy from the skin to the environment, cooling the body down


Responses in the skin when hot, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Responses in the skin when the body temperature is too high and needs to decrease

  • If the body temperature is too low, blood vessels constrict (vasoconstriction), sweating stops and skeletal muscles contract (shiver)
  • These mechanisms reduce heat loss to the surroundings (with skeletal muscle contraction increasing heat released in the body)


Responses in skin when cold, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Responses in the skin when body temperature is too low and needs to increase

Higher Tier Only

Examples of Body Temperature Control

  • The mechanisms described above lower or raise body temperature
  • In the exam, you may be given examples of different contexts in which the body temperature needs to decrease (when someone is too hot) or increase (when someone is too cold)
  • Learn the following concepts to ensure you can suggest what changes are happening and why:

Body temperature control table

Body temperature control table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Regulating body temperature, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Remember homeostasis involves the maintenance of constant internal environment; temperature control is an example of negative feedback

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