What Does the Pons Do?

The pons is a relay station that allows communication between different areas of the brain, especially the cerebrum and the cerebellum. It is also a connection between the medulla oblongata and the cerebral cortex. Its role in the transmission of messages allows the brain, and therefore the organism, to function.

The pons also regulates sleep and is the origin of REM or rapid eye movement sleep, when dreams take place. It allows the body to experience sleep paralysis, which keeps a person from getting up during sleep. Since it is part of the brain stem, the pons also transmits messages between the brain and the spinal cord.

The pons contains the nuclei of several cranial nerves. They are the trigeminal nerve, the abducens and facial nerve nuclei and the vestibulocochlear nuclei. These nerves control hearing and balance, the sensations of touch and pain in the face, breathing, the bladder and facial expressions. They also control the movement of eyes, the production of tears and saliva, and the ability to chew and swallow.

The pons is a structure that sits right above the medulla oblongata, below the midbrain and behind the cerebellum. It's made out of white matter and is about an inch long. "Pons" is the word for bridge in Latin.