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The brainstem consists of the midbrain, medulla oblongata, and the pons.

Credit: SEER Training Modules/ U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute


The brainstem is the region of the brain that connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord. It consists of the midbrain, medulla oblongata, and the pons. Motor and sensory neurons travel through the brainstem allowing for the relay of signals between the brain and the spinal cord. The brainstem coordinates motor control signals sent from the brain to the body. The brainstem also controls life supporting autonomic functions of the peripheral nervous system.


The brainstem controls several important functions of the body including:

  • Alertness
  • Arousal
  • Breathing
  • Blood Pressure
  • Digestion
  • Heart Rate
  • Other Autonomic Functions
  • Relays Information Between the Peripheral Nerves and Spinal Cord to the Upper Parts of the Brain


Directionally, the brainstem is located at the juncture of the cerebrum and the spinal column. It is anterior to the cerebellum.


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