The brainstem provides the main motor and sensory innervation to the face and neck via the cranial nerves. It also provides the connection of the cerebrum, basal ganglia, diencephalon, cerebellum and spinal cord. Additionally, there are other brainstem nuclei.
The brainstem also plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac and respiratory function. It also regulates the central nervous system and is pivotal in maintaining consciousness and regulating the sleep cycle.
Some taxonomies describe the brainstem as only containing the medulla oblongata and pons, whereas others include the midbrain.