The hindbrain or rhombencephalon is a developmental categorization of portions of the central nervous system in vertebrates. It includes the medulla, pons, and cerebellum. Together they support vital bodily processes.[1]

Diagram depicting the main subdivisions of the embryonic vertebrate brain. These regions will later differentiate into forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain structures.
Scheme of roof of fourth ventricle.
NeuroLex IDbirnlex_942
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The hindbrain can be subdivided in a variable number of transversal swellings called rhombomeres. In the human embryo eight rhombomeres can be distinguished, from caudal to rostral: Rh8-Rh1. Rostrally, the isthmus demarcates the boundary with the midbrain.

The caudal rhombencephalon has been generally considered as the initiation site for neural tube closure.[2]


Rhombomeres Rh3-Rh1 form the metencephalon.

The metencephalon is composed of the pons and the cerebellum; it contains:


Rhombomeres Rh8-Rh4 form the myelencephalon.

The myelencephalon forms the medulla oblongata in the adult brain; it contains:


The hindbrain is homologous to a part of the arthropod brain known as the sub-oesophageal ganglion, in terms of the genes that it expresses and its position in between the brain and the nerve cord.[3] On this basis, it has been suggested that the hindbrain first evolved in the Urbilaterian—the last common ancestor of chordates and arthropods—between 570 and 555 million years ago.[3][4]

Hindbrain diseasesEdit

A rare brain malformation of the cerebellum is rhombencephalosynapsis characterized by an absent or partially formed vermis. Symptoms can include truncal ataxia. The disorder is a main feature of Gomez-Lopez-Hernandez syndrome.

Additional imagesEdit


  • Haycock DE (2011). Being and Perceiving. Manupod Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-9569621-0-2.
  1. ^ "Brain atlas - Hindbrain". Lundbeck Institute - Brain explorer. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  2. ^ SpringerLink - Journal Article
  3. ^ a b Ghysen A (2003). "The origin and evolution of the nervous system". Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47 (7–8): 555–62. PMID 14756331.
  4. ^ Haycock, DE Being and Perceiving

5. Gisele E. Ishak, Jennifer C. Dempsey, Dennis W. W. Shaw, Hannah Tully, Margaret P. Adam, Pedro A. Sanchez-Lara, Ian Glass, Tessa C. Rue, Kathleen J. Millen, William B. Dobyns, Dan Doherty; Rhombencephalosynapsis: a hindbrain malformation associated with incomplete separation of midbrain and forebrain, hydrocephalus, and a broad spectrum of severity, Brain, Volume 135, Issue 5, 1 May 2012, Pages 1370-1386,

6. Tully, H. M., Dempsey, J. C., Ishak, G. E., Adam, M. P., Mink, J. W., Dobyns, W. B., Gospe, S. M., Weiss, A., Phillips, J. O. and Doherty, D. (2013), Persistent figure‐eight and side‐to‐side head shaking is a marker for rhombencephalosynapsis. Mov Disord., 28: 2019-2023. doi:10.1002/mds.25634

7. Poretti, Andrea & Dietrich Alber, Fabienne & Buerki, Sarah & P Toelle, Sandra & Boltshauser, Eugen. (2008). Cognitive outcome in children with rhombencephalosynapsis. European journal of paediatric neurology : EJPN : official journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society. 13. 28-33. 10.1016/j.ejpn.2008.02.005.

8. D Bell, Brian & A Stanko, Heather & L Levine, Ross. (2005). Normal IQ in a 55-year-old with newly diagnosed rhombencephalosynapsis. Archives of clinical neuropsychology : the official journal of the National Academy of Neuropsychologists. 20. 613-21. 10.1016/j.acn.2005.02.003.


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