Question Video: Recalling the Function of the Medulla Oblongata Biology

What is the function of the medulla oblongata?


Video Transcript

What is the function of the medulla oblongata? (A) To control fine motor movements, posture, balance, and coordination. (B) To control voluntary movements and help with memory and speech. (C) To store and release hormones produced by the hypothalamus. (D) To receive and process auditory and visual information. (E) To control breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.

To recall the function of the medulla oblongata, we need to review the components and functions of the hindbrain. From a developmental perspective, the brain has three divisions: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain. Structures of the hindbrain include the pons, the cerebellum, and the medulla oblongata. Together, these structures support and coordinate functions that are crucial to human survival.

The medulla oblongata is the lowest part of the overall hindbrain, where the brain transitions to the spinal cord. The medulla oblongata is about three centimeters in length, which compared to the overall size of the brain is relatively small. Despite the small size, the medulla oblongata is important for our survival because it contains all of the control centers for our autonomic functions. These functions include things that we do every day without thinking about it, such as controlling our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, swallowing, and sneezing. This means as you are sitting and watching this video, your body is busy doing some crucial things without you having to think about it. This is all made possible by your medulla oblongata.

So to answer the question, we can evaluate each answer choice to identify the choices that are an autonomic, involuntary function. Now we have this information, we can answer the question. The function of the medulla oblongata is to control breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.

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