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Definition of Brainstem

Brainstem: The lowest part of the brain which merges with the spinal cord and provides the major route by which the upper realms of the brain send information to, and receives information from, the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. The brainstem consists of the medulla oblongata, midbrain, and pons. All but two of the 12 cranial nerves originate in the brainstem. The brainstem influences basic processes such as alertness, breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23623
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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