The Human Body

Midbrain

Midbrain, the topmost structure of the brain stem that contains major relay stations for neurons transmitting signals to the cerebral cortex, as well as many reflex centers—pathways carrying sensory (input) information and motor (output) commands. Relay and reflex centers for visual and auditory (hearing) functions are located in the top portion of the midbrain. A pair of nuclei called the superior colliculus control reflex actions of the eye, such as blinking, opening and closing the pupil, and focusing the lens. A second pair of nuclei, called the inferior colliculus, control auditory reflexes, such as adjusting the ear to the volume of sound. At the bottom of the midbrain are reflex and relay centers relating to pain, temperature, and touch, as well as several regions associated with the control of movement, such as the red nucleus and the substantia nigra.