Research is still being done on the olivary body. Sometimes called "olives," olivary bodies are a pair of distinct oval structures, situated one on each side of the anterior surface of the medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is the lower part of the brain stem. The brain stem assists in the management of certain senses and the regulation of the cardiac and respiratory functions, as well as aids in maintaining consciousness, and regulating sleep. The medulla oblongata contains the respiratory, vomiting, and vasomotor centers, and deals with involuntary functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. The olivary body works specifically in the areas of motor learning function, and the auditory system. The olivary body is composed of nerve tissue, is approximately 1.25 centimeters long, and is separated into two parts. The inferior olivary nucleus is the part of the olivary body, which assists in cerebellar motor learning and functioning. The superior olivary nucleus is the part of the olivary body that belongs to the auditory system and assists in sound perception.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Olivary body