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Brainstem - Definition


The brainstem is a part of the central nervous system connecting the different elements of the encephalon, the brain, to the spinal cord. It is anatomically positioned in front of the cerebellum, just below the brain. It is composed of several different elements: the mid brain, or mesencephalon, at the top; the pons, in the middle; and the medulla oblongata, previously called the bulb, at the base. The brainstem performs regulatory functions for many different systems, notably sensory function for pain perception, vegetative function for heart rate regulation, and respiratory function. There are also many nerves emerging from this organism that carry out mainly sensory functions in the head.