Medulla Oblangata and its Functions

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The medulla oblongata is one among the many parts of the human brain which is majorly positioned in the part of the human brain known as brainstem. This part of the brain is encompassed in the larger part of the brain called the hindbrain.

The medulla oblongata is the section of the hindbrain that is closest to and has a connection down to the spinal code. Direction-wise, medulla oblongata is slightly lower in status compared to the pons and antecedent to the part of the brain known as the cerebellum.

In the case where an injury occurs to the medulla oblongata, this is a major cause of the defect of major nerves causing serious sensing related defects.

Among the major related problem which may arise from the injury effect of the medulla oblongata include loss of coordination of movement, losing the ability to feel touches, laboring when one decides to swallow something and the failure of the functioning of various muscles of the human's body.  

The uppermost part of the medulla is what makes a formation of the number four part of the human brain known as the cerebral ventricle. The cerebral ventricle is majorly consisted of what is known as cerebrospinal fluid and formed in a manner that it has a state of continuity with the cerebral aqueduct.

Consumption of illegal drugs and other harmful substances to the body causes failure in the efficient functioning of the medulla oblongata.

Another most probable cause of the failure of the appropriate function of the body is an overdose of illegal drugs or substances which hinders the body from performing some of its most important responsibilities.  The medulla oblongata has various functions which include the following:

Functions of the Medulla oblongata

The medulla oblongata like any other section of the human brain plays vital roles in a human body. A variety of the number of roles played by the medulla are as outlined below:

Body movement co-ordination

The medulla controls various body movements and co-ordinations which is majorly facilitated by the existence of numerous nuclei of the cranial nerves, whose location is the medulla. It controls all manner of involuntary movements of the body.

The involuntary movements of the body which majorly rely on the medulla for control include during the speech movements, movement of the shoulders, movements of the head and the ingested matter movement in the alimentary canal in the process of digestion.

Regulating the body’s Autonomic functions

The medulla is in charge of the human body’s autonomic activities. Among the many human body’s autonomic reactions controlled by the medulla include: swallowing, breathing, sneezing, the act of the alimentary canal in humans known as digestion and the functions of the heart, its components and blood.

Body autonomic functions are those functions which are in a state of unconsciously controlled by the body.  

Transfer of signals of the nerve between the brain and the spinal code

With the help of the type of nerves known as motor neurons or sensory neurons, which originate from the midbrain and forebrain, they go along to the medulla and as part of the functions of the medulla relay information from various parts of the body to the brain.

Facilitation of these nerves enables the medulla to receive various reactions to the body’s messages. This information is always transferred between various types of nervous systems which are the central nervous systems and the peripheral nervous system. This message is always conveyed to the thalamus, where it's now catapulted to the cerebral cortex.  

Features of the Medulla Oblongata

The medulla oblongata has within it various entities or characters which help it in the full execution of its functions effectively. The following are the various features of the medulla oblongata.

Fasciculus gracilis

This would be defined as a bunch of nerves or a line of nerves that are majorly found in the dorsal column which is also known as the medial lemniscus route which is majorly used by the spinal code and relays messages from the lower body organs to the brain.

Olive- this exists in two's and acts as the host of nerves which act as the interconnections between the medulla oblongata and the part of the human brain known as the varoli's bridge and the cerebellum. These are the nerves that also make a connection between the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord.

Median fissures

This part of the medulla oblongata would be defined as shallow, majorly located between two sections of the medulla oblongata which are the rear part of the oblongata and the front side of the oblongata. 


This would be described as a white substance in the brain that is structured in sets of two found in the medulla which harbors a particular type of nerves known as motor fibers of a set of two tracts known as corticospinal and corticobulbar tracts.

The above-named tracts are both defined as the pyramidal tracts. The distinction of the lower pyramids is set when is happens the fibers come into a state of the crossing.

There is the existence of a myelinated and unmyelinated type of fibers for the nerves. Myelinated fibers which are in another term the white matter has a cover or sheath of myelin which is in the matter a combination of lipids and proteins.

The most important benefit of the sheath is offering the insulation benefit to the axons with a major promotion of adequate and standard connection of communication compared to those fibers which are not myelinated which are in other words known as the gray matter.

The gray matter part of the medulla is the one that harbors most of the cranial nerves.

The medulla is the part of the human brain that acts as the interconnection between the brain and the spinal code. It takes a cone-shaped part of the hindbrain. The inside parts of the medulla are sectioned into two sections namely:

Ventral medulla

The partition of the brain is composed of various sections that had been defined above. Various sections of this part of the brain include the following: the cranial nerves, pyramid, and olives.

The location of the pyramid is the central location of this section of the medulla which is made of separation by organs known as the anterior median fissures. 

Tegmental medulla

The tegmental part of the medulla is comprised of grey matter which is surrounded by a white matter. The grey matter is another definition of the non-myelinated as the white matter is another definition of the myelinated. This is the section of the medulla from which the cranial nerves emerge from and they ventrally exit the medulla.


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  2. Marshall JC, Morriss-Kay GM. Functional anatomy of the human brain. J Anat. 2004 Dec;205(6):415. doi: 10.1111/j.0021-8782.2004.00360.x. PMCID: PMC1571395.  Found online at: