2-Minute Neuroscience: Medulla Oblongata

Welcome to 2 minute neuroscience, where I
simplistically explain neuroscience topics in 2 minutes or less. In this installment I will discuss the medulla
oblongata. The medulla oblongata, or the medulla, is
the lowest part of the brainstem, found below the pons and above the spinal cord. There is no clear separation between the medulla
and the spinal cord; instead the spinal cord gradually transitions into the medulla. Perhaps the most important action linked to
the medulla is the regulation of cardiovascular and respiratory functions. The medulla gets information about changes
in blood pressure from baroreceptors, which are found inside blood vessels. This information is sent the nucleus of the
solitary tract in the medulla, which initiates reflexive actions to return blood pressure
to a desired range. The medulla is also responsible for generating
breathing movements and for regulating respiration to ensure there is enough oxygen in the blood. To accomplish this, chemoreceptors, which
are found inside blood vessels, detect changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the
blood. When oxygen levels fall, neurons in and around
the nucleus of the solitary tract and the nucleus ambiguus respond by increasing respiration. The medulla also controls a number of other
reflexive actions like swallowing, coughing, sneezing, and vomiting. It is home to the inferior olivary nuclei,
which are connected to the cerebellum and involved in movement. It also contains the nucleus gracilis and
nucleus cuneatus, important nuclei of the dorsal-columns medial lemniscus sensory pathway. A number of cranial nerve nuclei are also
found in the medulla. The medulla contains a number of tracts that
pass from the brainstem to the spinal cord and vice versa. The corticospinal tract and corticobulbar
tracts, important tracts for movement, form triangular bundles of fibers in the medulla
that create ridges on the outside of the brainstem. The bundles and ridges have been termed the
medullary pyramids, and because of this the corticospinal and corticobulbar tracts are
often referred to as the pyramidal tracts.


  1. Ima lose my mind in it, crazy that Medulla Oblongata get to rubbing on my lamp, get the genie out the bottle

  2. The body is impervious to oxygen concentration, rather it's sensitive to CO2 concentration. That's why people pass out when oxygen and CO2 levels are depleted, they don't realize they're running out of "air"

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