<anatomy> The lowest part of the brain, which merges with the spinal cord. It consists of the medulla oblongata, midbrain and pons.

Originally, the entire unpaired subdivision of the brain, composed of (in anterior sequence) the rhombencephalon, mesencephalon, and diecephalon as distinguished from the brain's only paired subdivision, the telencephalon.

More recently, the term's connotation has undergone several arbitrary modifications: some use it to denote no more than rhombencephalon plus mesencephalon, distinguishing that complex from the prosencephalon (diencephalon plus telencephalon); others restrict it even further to refer exclusively to the rhombencephalon. From both developmental and architectural viewpoints, the original interpretation seems preferable.

(05 Mar 2000)