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Hindbrain - Parts and Functions

The human brain is a complex structure made up of so many parts. Students get to know much about the human brain from the notes and the study materials that are provided to them. Well, here we are going to talk about one of the most important parts of the human brain known as the hindbrain.


The hindbrain can be considered as one of the major regions of the human brain. The location of the hindbrain is in the lower back portion of the human brain. There are brainstems and a very dense and coral-shaped structure present there, known as the cerebellum. We are going to provide some more details about the hindbrain parts and functions right here.


What is the Hindbrain?

The human brain is made up of three major regions and the hindbrain constitutes one of them. The hindbrain, also known as the rhombencephalon, is situated in the lower back portion of the brain. There are some important parts, such as the cerebellum and the brainstem, situated in the hindbrain.


We are going to have some more discussions about the parts and the components of hindbrain right here. To be precise, the brainstem can be considered as a very important and essential portion of the entire central nervous system. This is because it is the part that is connected to the spinal cord, and hence, it helps in the coordination of many different and vital functions of the body, such as heartbeat and breathing, as well.


Hindbrain Parts:  Know What Makes the Hindbrain

The hindbrain has three main parts that students need to know about. These parts are Pons, Medulla Oblongata, and the Cerebellum. Also, most cranial nerves from the total 12 are found right here in the hindbrain.



This is a very important part of the hindbrain and it is a Latin word that means “bridge”. This particular portion acts as a sort of connection between the cerebral cortex and the brainstem. The shape of the pons is bulbous and it is situated right underneath the entire midbrain. The portion serves as a basic coordination centre that can be used for communications and signals that tend to flow between the 2 different hemispheres of the brain and the body’s spinal cord. There are 4 different cranial nerves that are found in this part of the hindbrain.



Situated right behind the rest of the brainstem and the pons is a particular structure that can be named the cerebellum. This is also a Latin word that means Little Brain. When we look at the cerebellum in cross-section, it might just look like a wrinkly, layered coral. However, just like we have seen in the cortex, there are 2 hemispheres to this structure and there is a very thick and dense layer consisting of grey matter that surrounds the entire structure. Not to mention that there is a very thick inner region composed of white matter as well. There is a presence of certain special neurons that are known as Purkinje cells. These cells have the capability to process certain signals due to the highly complex and complicated dendrite branches that they have.


Medulla Oblongata

The Medulla oblongata is another one of the important parts of the hindbrain and it is situated on the lowermost part of the overall hindbrain and the brainstem. The brain transitions along with the spinal cord happen in the medulla oblongata. The length of this section is just about 3 cm in total. However, this portion consists of an indispensable nerve tract that tends to control certain centres of our body, and hence, it helps in the performance of several vital functions as well.


When it comes to the matter contained in the medulla, it can be said that it is composed of both grey and white matter. There are several cranial nerves (glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal) that tend to arise from the medulla oblongata.


Functions of Hindbrain

There are many different functions that are performed by the hindbrain. These are mentioned below:

  • It is responsible for controlling the lungs as well as the heart. It also regulates the heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, sneezing, and swallowing.

  • The cerebellum helps in the coordination of different muscles that enable the voluntary movements that we make. 

  • The cranial nerves in the medulla oblongata also have many functions. The glossopharyngeal nerve is one of the nerves that tends to control the sensations of taste that we feel and also some of the movements of the mouth. There is the vagus nerve that has control over the voice reflexes, gag reflexes, and several of the mouth movements as well. There is also the accessory nerve that tends to provide coordination to the neck and the head. Also, there is the hypoglossal nerve for the control of the tongue and other speech-related muscles.

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FAQs on Hindbrain

1. What are the important parts of the Hindbrain?

The hindbrain consists mainly of three parts that are important for the proper functioning of the body. These are pons varolii, cerebellum, and medulla oblongata. These are the main and important parts of the hindbrain that are located in order to provide better control of the body and provide some other movement benefits.

2. What is the function of Hindbrain?

The hindbrain is responsible for most of the breathing, blood pressure, sneezing, and swallowing actions that happen in the body. This part of the brain is also responsible for the heart rate and breathing that happens in the body. The main functions of the parts of the hindbrain are given below:

  • Cerebellum: It controls rapid muscular activities.

  • Pons Varolii: It transfers signals from the medulla oblongata to the superior parts of the brain.

  • Medulla Oblongata: It controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and some other involuntary movements.

3. What do you understand by “Arbour Vitae”?

The cross section of the cerebellar hemispheres exhibits a branching tree-like arrangement of grey and white matter, which is known as arbour vitae.

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