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What Is the Connection between the Midbrain and the Pons?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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The connection between the midbrain and the pons is that they are both part of the brainstem. Physically, the midbrain and the pons are right above and below one another. The midbrain sits at the uppermost top of the brainstem and the pons sits directly underneath the midbrain. The difference between the midbrain and the pons, though, is that they perform different functions. In addition, although the midbrain and the pons are both separate parts of the brainstem, the pons is actually also a part of the hindbrain.

In general, the overall function of the brainstem is to facilitate and allow for the communication between the brain and the spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system. The midbrain, which is also known as the mesencephalon, lies between the forebrain and the pons. As a part of the brainstem, the midbrain has a responsibility to help coordinate messages between the brain and the spinal cord. In addition to this function, the midbrain is also responsible for some reflexes, as well as some voluntary movements. For example, the midbrain coordinates eye reflexes. It also helps coordinate posture, as well as walking.

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The pons, or metencephalon, is located between the midbrain and the medulla, another part of the hindbrain that also makes up the rest of the brainstem. Also, the pons connects the medulla with the cerebellum. Like the midbrain, the pons aids in coordinating the transfer of messages within the brain, acting as a bridge for communication among the cerebrum, spinal cord and cerebellum. The pons is also responsible for other functions as well, such as helping to regulate breathing, and beginning or terminating motor impulses and sensory information that is sent to and from the brain and the face.

The central nervous system is basically made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain sends motor messages to the spinal cord, which then sends them out to the proper part of the body. The spinal cord, in turn, sends sensory messages to the brain. This communication enables the human body to function as it does, and as the brainstem plays a vital role in this communication, without the brainstem, the exchange of information between the brain and the body would be lost. As such, it is clear that the midbrain and the pons are two small, but very important, parts of the central nervous system.

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