The Brain Stem

By: Sarah Chandler

What does it do?

Just like an airplane can't fly safely without signals from an air control tower, a person would not be able to function without one very important part of his of her brain. The brain stem is very important because it regulates one's breathing and heartbeat. The brain stem has five important parts that work together. Some may believe that the brain stem just connects the brain to the spinal cord, but it does much more than that. The brain stem coordinates motor control signals sent from the brain to the body ( Bailey 1).

Why are the Different Parts so Important?

These parts of the brain stem control specific functions like sight, hearing, heartbeat and breathing (The Brain Stem 1). Some parts of the brain stem send the signals within the brain stem itself. Each part is very important. If one part is not working properly, the signal sent to the body will not be sent correctly or at all. The parts are like gears, each part works together.

You Cant Live Without it!

A person cannot live without their brain stem. The brain stem is involved with your nervous system ( Bailey 1). Without the medulla oblongata, you would not be able to breathe or swallow. If you didn't have the part called pons, things like bladder control and sleep would not function properly. The mid brain is involved with hearing and vision. These are some reasons why the brain stem is so important.

Parts of the Brain Stem

The parts of the brain stem are complex because each part controls a specific thing. The medulla oblongata is located at the very bottom of the brain stem. It contains centers that control heartbeat, breathing, and digestion. The pons is located in front of the cerebellum. It has large nerve fibers that connect the right and left lobes of the cerebellum. The mid brain contains relay/reflex centers for sensory and motor commands. The thalamus is located in the middle of the brain, it receives sensory signals (not including smell) and it sends out motor signals. The hypothalmus is located at the base of the brain. It controls processes such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and emotion. The nuclei helps control alertness, sleep, etc. (The Brain Stem 1).


As evidenced by extensive medical research, it is clear that the work done by the brain stem is an involuntary function. It connects the brain to the body! Motor and sensory neurons travel through the brain stem (Bailey 1). You can not live without it! Like the conductor of a symphony, it keeps all the parts working in harmony.

Works Cited

Bailey, Regina. "Brainstem". About .com. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"The Brain Stem. " Oracle Think Quest. Web . 29 Jan. 2014.