Brainstem anatomy WIKI

This WIKI is a guide to human subcortical-brainstem anatomy and connectivity. Observational clinical studies have linked social and higher cognitive phenomena to several types of changes in peripheral organ systems and disease processes. This WIKI reviews the autonomic and neuroendocrine outputs that regulate peripheral function, with an emphasis on a) brainstem regions, and b) sympathetic (SNS) regulation systems. It goes beyond the brainstem itself to provide information on the subcortical-brainstem interactions likely to be critical for the effects of cognitive and emotional processes on peripheral physiology.

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> Summary of information available <
> List of regions <

Region map

Selected efferent projections

Click on the map for links to region pages

AmygdalaHypothalamusHypothalamusPAGLocus CoeruleusRaphe:DRNRaphe:NRMNuc. Tractus SolitariusDMNX: Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagusAmb: Nucleus AmbiguusRVM: Rostral ventral medullaHuman neuroimaging tasks

A5 = A5 noradrenergic cell group ACCd = Dorsal anterior cingulate BarN = Barrington’s Nucleus, also M-region or Pontine Micturition Center BLA = basolateral amygdala Botz = Botzinger complex CeA = central nucleus of the amygdala DMN-X = dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus IL = infralimbic cortex IML = thoracic intermediolateral columns (sympathetic preganglionics) LC = locus coeruleus LHY = lateral hypothalamus KF = Kollicker-Fuse Nucleus NA = nuc. ambiguus NRAc = nuc. retroambiguus (caudal) MRF = midbrain reticular formation ON = Onuf’s nucleus (sphincter) and bladder motoneurons; sacral parasympathetic preganglionics PAG = periaqueductal gray PL = Prelimbic cortex PVN = paravetricular nucleus (hypothalamus) RVLM = rostral ventrolateral medulla RVM = rostral ventral medulla (medial)
  • This image focuses on selected efferent projections. All projections through the IML are sympathetic and noradrenergically mediated. Those with colored boxes near peripheral structures are parasympathetic.
  • Afferent projections are not shown here for clarity.
  • Dashed lines indicate direct spinal projections from “higher” brainstem and cortical regions, and illustrate the degree to which spinal efferents arise at all levels of the neural hierarchy.
  • A minority of the connections likely present have been studied, especially from the forebrain
  • Skeletal and smooth muscles can be driven by affective brain regions independent of the traditional voluntary skeletomotor system (Holstege)
  • Very few, if any, of the relevant brainstem nuclei have been definitively imaged (even including commonly activated regions such as PAG)
  • Neuroimaging studies likely produce signal in these regions, but the exact source/nucleus has not been identified.

Links: Amygdala Hypothalamus Hypothalamus PAG Locus Coeruleus Raphe:DRN Raphe:NRM Nuc. Tractus Solitarius

DMNX: Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus Amb: Nucleus Ambiguus Rostral ventrolateral medulla (no entry yet) Nuc. retroambiguus, Botzinger complex (no entry yet) RVM: Rostral ventral medulla Human neuroimaging tasks

List of regions

Amygdala group

Hypothalamus group

Ventral striatal group

Epithalamus group

Midbrain group

Pontine/Upper Medullary group

Raphe Group

Medulla group

Ascending pain pathways

Other brainstem atlases

Mai & Paxinos interactive brainstem atlas:

John I. Johnson, Brian M. Winn, Garrett M. Kerndt, Joseph J. Maleszewski, Myrvine Bernadotte, Prashant Vaishnava and Keith D. Sudheimer Radiology Department, Communications Technology Laboratory, and College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University

Rand Swenson

Allen Brain Institute Atlases


This site is made possible with generous support from the National Cancer Institute Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer, SAIC, and the members Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience lab.

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Last modified: 2017/09/27 22:54