The brain is that portion of the central nervous system (CNS) that lies within the skull. Three major subdivisions are recognized: the brainstem, the cerebellum, and the cerebrum. The cerebrum includes both the cerebral hemispheres and the diencephalon.
The brainstem is the rostral continuation of the spinal cord. The foramen magnum, the hole at the base of the skull, marks the junction of the spinal cord and brainstem. The brainstem consists of three subdivisions: the medulla, the pons, and the midbrain (Figure 2.1).
The caudal limit of the medulla lies at the foramen magnum. The central canal of the spinal cord expands in the region of the medulla to form the fourth ventricle (IV in Figure 1.2). Cranial nerves associated with the medulla are the hypoglossal, spinal accessory, vagus, and the glossopharyngeal.
The pons lies above (rostral to) the medulla (see Figure 2.1). The bulk of the medulla is continuous with the pontine tegmentum. The tegmentum consists of nuclei and tracts that lie between the basilar pons and the floor of the fourth ventricle (IV in Figure 1.2; see Figure 10.2). The basilar pons consists of tracts along with nuclei that are associated with the cerebellum. The fourth ventricle narrows at the rostral end of the pons to connect with the cerebral aqueduct of the midbrain (see Figures 1.2, 10.2–10.4). Cranial nerves associated with the pons are the statoacoustic (previously known as the auditory), facial, abducens, and trigeminal.