The pons is a portion of the brain located above the medulla oblongata and below the midbrain. Although it is small, at roughly 2.5 centimeters long, it serves several important functions as it serves as a bridge between various parts of the nervous system, including the cerebellum and cerebrum. There are many important nerves that originate in the pons. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for feeling in the face as well as controlling the muscles that are responsible for biting, chewing, and swallowing. The abducens nerve allows the eyes to look from side to side. The facial nerve controls facial expressions, and the vestibularcochlear nerve allows sound to move from the ear to the brain. All of these nerves start in the pons. As part of the brainstem, the pons also affects several automatic functions necessary for life. A section of the lower pons stimulates and controls the intensity of breathing, and a section of the upper pons decreases the depth and frequency of breaths. The pons has also been associated with the control of sleep cycles. Additionally, the pons is also associated with the brain stem and the things it controls like respiration and reflexes.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Pons