Medulla oblongata

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Position of the medulla in humans

The medulla oblongata is the lower, or rear,[1] half of the brainstem. It is often referred to as simply the medulla. It is just in front (or on top) of the spinal cord.

The medulla contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and vasomotor centers and deals with autonomic functions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

Functions[change | change source]

The medulla oblongata controls autonomic functions, and relays nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord. It is also responsible for controlling several major points and autonomic functions of the body:

  • respiration – chemoreceptors
  • cardiac center – sympathetic, parasympathetic system
  • vasomotor center – baroreceptors
  • reflex centers of vomiting, coughing, sneezing, and swallowing

Notes[change | change source]

  1. rear in most vertebrates, and lower in man, because of the position of our skull on top of the vertebral column.