The midbrain – also called the mesencephalon – is a multi-faceted, subcortical level of the brain. Through the body of the midbrain pass a substantial number of various fiber tracts especially related to vision, voluntary muscle activity and other important funcions. The midbrain contains:
- Thalamus – A main sensory relay and integrative center connecting with many areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex.
- Hypothalmamus – The master control of the autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic and sympathetic. This system stimulates and controls structures such as the heart, most glands and smooth muscles. In effect, this system allows your systems to excite and relax, as needed. This system integrates the autonomic and endocrine functions with behavior.
- Hippocampus – This area of the brain, apart from its other functions, is primarily responsible for short term memory.
- Basal Ganglia – Made up of the caudate nucleus, globus pallidus and putaman, the basal ganglia is primarily but not exclusively responsible for crude motor movements. Injury to this area leads to rigidity, hypotonia, and Parkinson’s and Huntigton’s diseases. In addition the basal ganglion houses the amygdale, which mediates inborn and acquired emotional responses. It appears to be involved in mediating both conscious and unconscious emotional feelings. It connects, among other places, into the prefrontal lobe.
- Pineal Body – A gland-like body which is primarily responsible for melotonin biosynthesis.
- Corpus Callosum – A great network or connection of fibers that links the two cerebral hemispheres. right and left, together.
- Cerebellum – Primarily responsible for regulating muscle tone, for integrating the motor and sensory pathways, and for balance/spatial awareness.