The brain is a complex organ. It controls and regulates everything your body does. The human brain is divided into sections. Each section is responsible for various functions such as breathing, speaking, vision and so forth. At the back bottom part of the brain is the brain stem. Within the brain stem is a structure called the medulla oblongata, which has some very important functions.
The medulla oblongata is responsible for regulating your rate of breathing, your heart rate, blood pressure, circulation and digestive system activity. It controls when these activities start, when they stop and how fast they go. This area is also where your sleep cycles are regulated.
This structure also plays a role in regulating muscle tone and movement. In addition, it houses nerves that carry sensory information from your internal organs to the brain. It is also responsible for initiating reflexes such as vomiting, swallowing, gagging, coughing, sneezing and hiccuping.
If the medulla oblongata or the nerves that pass through it are injured or damaged, you may experience paralysis or loss of muscle coordination. You may lose your sense of touch, develop vertigo or have trouble swallowing. You may not be able to sense or detect pain and temperature changes. In this area the nerves cross sides, so if the right side of the medulla oblongata is injured then the symptoms will appear on the left side of the body.