The Hindbrain: Myelencephalon & Metencephalon

The hindbrain is composed of 2 regions: the metencephalon and myelencephalon. It is the most posterior region of the brain.

The metencephalon

Hindbrain Metencephalon

  • Pons – The part of the metencephalon located on the brain stem that forms a bulge on the brain stem’s ventral surface. It is involved in motor control and sensory analysis, acting as the sensory/motor relay center.
  • Cerebellum – The “cauliflower” piece in the back of the brain that is responsible for sensorimotor function (the part that helps regulate posture, balance, and coordination). Think of the “practice makes perfect” theory of sports, for example.
  • Reticular formation – The reticular formation is comprised of 2 columns of neuronal nuclei with ill-defined boundaries, which go up through the medulla and into the mesencephalon. The reticular formation plays a role in arousal, and regulates your sleep/wake cycle. It is also associated with habituation (example – able to tune out background noise), somatic motor control (tone, balance, and posture), cardiovascular regulation and pain modulation.

The myelencephalon

Hindbrain Myelencephalon

  • Medulla oblongata – Located between the pons and brain stem, the medulla is responsible for basic life support functions like respiration and heart rate. Therefore, you cannot have a non-functioning medulla. The medulla oblongata also acts as a protective system that eliminates things that don’t belong (sneezing/coughing) in your body. The medulla can be influenced/controlled through meditation.