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The Brainstem

The Brainstem

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This lesson will examine the structure and function of the the brain stem.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to this lesson on the brain stem. In this lesson, you will learn about the structure and function of the brain stem. Specifically, this lesson will focus on:

  1. Brainstem’s Structure
  2. Brainstem’s Role
  3. Brainstem’s Location

1. Brainstem’s Structure

The brainstem is formed by three areas of the brain called the pons, medulla, and the midbrain. The brainstem is continuous with the spinal cord which means nerve connections of the motor and sensory systems will pass through the brain stem. Take a look at the diagram below that had labeled the different parts of the brain stem.

The midbrain relays any sensory information to the forebrain acting as a liaison between other parts of the brain and the forebrain. The pons is a part of the brain that helps regulate our breathing and is also connected to the midbrain by nerve tracks. The medulla oblongata helps to regulate our breathing, our heartbeat, reflexes such as swallowing, sneezing, coughing, and vomiting.

You can see how these three parts of the brain together and even though they makes up a small part of the brain they play a large role in brain function. Things like the breathing and heart rate are very important things that need to be regulated and are funtctions that we don't have control over i.e. we don't think about consciously.

Terms to Know

Medulla Oblongata

A structure found in the brainstem that controls behaviors we do not think consciously about such as breathing, heartbeat and some reflexes.

Pons

A structure found in the brainstem that regulates breathing and is connected to the midbrain.

Midbrain

A structure found in the brainstem that relays sensory information to the forebrain.


2. Brainstem’s Role

The brain stem plays a large role in regulating breathing, heartbeat, reflexes, consciousness, and sleep and all three parts of the brain stem work together to coordinate these basic functions. Damage to the brain stem can be extremely dangerous or fatal. Losing control of these functions, such as regulation of heart rate, will cause death.


Summary

So this lesson has been an overview on the structure of the brainstem, specifically the pons, medulla, and the midbrain. You also learned about the major functions of the brainstem.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Medulla Oblongata

    A structure found in the brainstem that controls behaviors we do not think consciously about such as breathing, heartbeat and some reflexes.

  • Pons

    A structure found in the brainstem that regulates breathing and is connected to the midbrain.

  • Midbrain

    A structure found in the brainstem that relays sensory information to the forebrain.