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The medulla, or medulla oblongata, is part of the hindbrain and the lowest portion of the brainstem. It controls automatic functions such as heart rate, breathing, coordination of body movements, digestive processes, control of arousal and sleep,swallowing, and sneezing. The medulla oblongata helps in the transporting of messages between several parts of the brain and the spinal cord. Sensory and motor neurons from the midbrain and forebrain pass through the medulla. It is located under the pons and in front of the cerebellum. The medulla consists of both white and gray matter. A complex network of medullary nerve cells and processes from elsewhere in the central nervous system enables the medulla to carry on complex integrative functions.
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