The reticular formation (shown in green) extends from the superior portion of the spinal cord into the diencephalon.
lower parts of the brain stem and spinal cord with higher parts of the brain. The midbrain includes several masses of gray matter that serve as reflex centers. It also contains the cerebral aqueduct that connects the third and fourth ventricles (fig. 11.21).
Two prominent bundles of nerve fibers on the underside of the midbrain comprise the cerebral peduncles. These fibers include the corticospinal tracts and are the main motor pathways between the cerebrum and lower parts of the nervous system (see fig. 11.20). Beneath the cerebral peduncles are some large bundles of sensory fibers that carry impulses upward to the thalamus.
Two pairs of rounded knobs on the superior surface of the midbrain mark the location of four nuclei, known collectively as corpora quadrigemina. The upper masses (superior colliculi) contain the centers for certain visual reflexes, such as those responsible for moving the eyes to view something as the head turns. The lower ones (inferior colliculi) contain the auditory reflex centers that operate when it is necessary to move the head to hear sounds more distinctly (see fig. 11.20).
Near the center of the midbrain is a mass of gray matter called the red nucleus. This nucleus communicates with the cerebellum and with centers of the spinal cord, and it provides reflexes that maintain posture. It appears red because it is richly supplied with blood vessels.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.