Function of Brain Stem
- The brainstem consists of the –
- the pons and
- the midbrain
- The activities of the brainstem may be divided into 3 general types:
–Cranial nerve functions;
- The conduit functions are apparent, since the only way for ascending tracts to reach the thalamus or cerebellum (or for descending tracts to reach the spinal cord) is through the brain stem.
- Many of these tracts, however, are not straight-through affairs, and relay nuclei in the brain stem are frequently involved.
Cranial Nerve Functions
- The cranial nerves are the head’s equivalent of spinal nerve fibers;
–with the addition of special fibers involved in the special senses of olfaction, sight, hearing, equilibrium, and taste.
- A wide assortment of sensory and motor nuclei related to cranial nerve function can be found at various brain stem levels.
- A number of integrative functions are organized at the level of the brainstem.
- These include complex motor patterns, aspects of respiratory and cardiovascular activity, and even some regulation of the level of consciousness.
- Much of this is accomplished by the reticular formation.