What Is the Function of Your Hindbrain?

3 minutes read -
Ritch Flynn
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Woman brain
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Your hindbrain functions as your ancient ally. Ever since you were a baby, it’s been mapping your world, helping you make sense of everything.

It was your spine that was first to develop, shortly followed by the hindbrain. After that, your midbrain and forebrain began to form.

As our level of sophistication grew, so did the complexity of our brains. And the further our brains developed, the smarter we became.

What Is the Function of the Forebrain, Midbrain, and Hindbrain?

The hindbrain came early in our development. Therefore, as you might expect, it handles more primitive functions, compared to the supercomputer abilities of the forebrain. 

So, what do the other parts of the brain do? Here, we’ll clarify some differences and abilities of the hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain.


Sitting on top of the rest of the brain, your forebrain is the largest part of your brain. It takes up 2/3 of your brain and comes in at roughly 1 pound in weight.

It’s the most advanced part of your brain, handling executive and higher functions such as thinking, perception, and language. It also helps control motor functions and relay sensory data.



Also known as mesencephalon, your midbrain connects to both the forebrain and hindbrain. Together with the hindbrain, it forms the brainstem.

This is the part of your brain which connects to the spinal cord directly. Thus, it is your physical connection between the brain and the rest of your body. It controls movement and also processes vision and speech. Eye movement is handled here too. 

What Is the Hindbrain Function?

Getting its name for the Latin word for ‘bridge’, your hindbrain connects the spine to the higher brain. It’s a coordination hub sending and receiving signals between the two. It coordinates the respiratory rhythm, motor activity, sleep, and wakefulness–everything you need to survive. It is composed of the medulla oblongata, the pons, and the cerebellum.

The medulla oblongata is the control center for the heart and lungs. It’s responsible for functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, swallowing and sneezing.

Why is the hindbrain important?

Your hindbrain is an often forgotten but essential part of your brain. It handles the ‘subconscious stuff’ we tend to take for granted.

With it, you wouldn’t be able to move, to swallow or to breathe. 

The roles of the hindbrain include maintaining balance and equilibrium. Working with the hypothalamus, it maintains homeostasis.

Together with the lungs, it monitors and maintaining our diaphragm from moment to moment, allowing you to breathe.


What Makes Up the Hindbrain and What Does It Do?

Your hindbrain is the doorway between the senses and the spine through to the midbrain and forebrain. If your brain was a corporation, your hindbrain would act as secretary. It’s a gatekeeper that screens the mail, only allowing the important messages to get through.

Say you’re tossed a ball. That message hits the senses, and is converted to electrical impulses. These electrical impulses filter through the hindbrain.

If its ‘muscle memory,’ you’ll catch the ball, and throw it back. But let’s say you catch the ball in a new way. This message will go to the thalamus to your memory bank.

“Oh, I caught the ball in a new way,” it says. “I guess this way works too.” Your system is then updated with this new information. And this is just how your map of reality evolves, in millions of small ways each day.

In this way, our brains run on software that is constantly updating itself. The map of reality you store in your mind is in constant progress. And we can choose to grow it deliberately.

If knowledge is power, learning is your superpower.

—Jim Kwik, the Author of Mindavalley’s Superbrain Program

By committing to lifelong learning and taking your own next step, you too can grow your superbrain.

What are your thoughts on hindbrain function and how are you working on improving it?

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Ritch Flynn

Ritch Flynn

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