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Diagram depicting the main subdivisions of the embryonic vertebrate brain. These regions will later differentiate into forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain structures.
Scheme of roof of fourth ventricle.
MeSH A08.
NeuroNames hier-531
NeuroLex ID Rhombencephalon
TA A14.1.03.002
FMA 67687
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The hindbrain or rhombencephalon is a developmental categorization of portions of the central nervous system in vertebrates. It includes the medulla, pons, and cerebellum. Together they support vital bodily processes.[1]


The hindbrain can be subdivided in a variable number of transversal swellings called rhombomeres. In the human embryo eight rhombomeres can be distinguished, from caudal to rostral: Rh8-Rh1. Rostrally, the isthmus demarcates the boundary with the midbrain.

A rare disease of the rhombencephalon—"rhombencephalosynapsis"—is characterized by a missing vermis resulting in a fused cerebellum. Patients generally present with cerebellar ataxia.

The caudal rhombencephalon has been generally considered as the initiation site for neural tube closure.[2]


Rhombomeres Rh3-Rh1 form the metencephalon.

The metencephalon is composed of the pons and the cerebellum; it contains:


Rhombomeres Rh8-Rh4 form the myelencephalon.

The myelencephalon forms the medulla oblongata in the adult brain; it contains:


The hindbrain is homologous to a part of the arthropod brain known as the sub-oesophageal ganglion, in terms of the genes that it expresses and its position in between the brain and the nerve cord.[3] On this basis, it has been suggested that the hindbrain first evolved in the Urbilaterian - the last common ancestor of chordates and arthropods - between 570 and 555 million years ago.[3][4]

Additional images[edit]


  1. ^ "Brain atlas - Hindbrain". Lundbeck Institute - Brain explorer. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 
  2. ^ SpringerLink - Journal Article
  3. ^ a b Ghysen A (2003). "The origin and evolution of the nervous system". Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47 (7–8): 555–62. PMID 14756331. 
  4. ^ Haycock, DE Being and Perceiving

External links[edit]