The Nervous System: Brain Stem and Cerebellum

Welcome back to our lesson on the nervous system.

In this video we will discuss the brain stem and the cerebellum.

We will focus on the structure of the brain stem

including the functions of its main constituents,

the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata.

Afterwards, we will introduce the cerebellum and its functions.

Great! So let’s begin.

The brain stem connects the different parts of the central nervous system together.

It is located below the diencephalon

and it connects to the spinal cord on the bottom.

Many of the cranial nerve pairs come out of the brain stem.

And due to this, it is responsible for many of our vital autonomic functions

as well as the sensations and movement

in our face and head.

Closer to the very top of the brain stem

is the midbrain.

The midbrain plays a major part in processing visual information,

auditory information,

and integrating reflexes to auditory and visual stimulus.

For example,

when you hear a sound

and then you turn your head towards that sound

you are using your midbrain.

Below the midbrain is the pons.

The word pons means “bridge”

and as its name would suggest,

its main role is to bridge, or relay, sensory information

between the cerebrum and the medulla.

To facilitate this role,

the pons is made up of many nerve tracts

that carry information through the brain stem,

towards the upper portions of the brain.

Outside of bridging information,

the pons also integrates with the medulla oblongata

to produce normal breathing patterns.

The medulla is located at the bottom of the brain stem.

Its job is to send sensory information to the thalamus

and to other portions of the brain stem.

It is considered a major autonomic center

because it regulates our visceral functions,

such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion.

The last part of the brain that we will discuss called the cerebellum.

It is the second-largest part of the brain.

And, its main role is to coordinate complex somatic motor patterns.

Such as voluntary movement, muscle tone, and bodily equilibrium.

The cerebellum also regulates our positional balance and coordination.

It is able to do this by working with proprioceptors

in various organs throughout the body,

which relay information about body positioning.

Essentially, any graceful and coordinated movements,

such as those in sports or the arts,

would rely heavily the cerebellum.

This concludes our discussion of the brain stem and the cerebellum.

Thank you for watching!