Last revised by Francis Deng on 2 Aug 2021

The metencephalon (plural: metencephala or metencephalons) is a secondary brain vesicle derived from the rhombencephalon, formed in the 5th week of embryonic life. 


The metencephalon goes on to form the pons, the majority of the cerebellum and the fourth ventricle. The most rostral portion of the cerebellum receives contributions from the mesencephalon, and the floor of the fourth ventricle is derived in part from the myelencephalon 1.

The pons is involved in the relay of signals between multiple brain regions. The cerebellum plays an integral role in coordination of movements.


Cerebellar dysgenesis may lead to syndromes of disordered movement of the eyes or body. These congenital ataxias may have variable severities and affected organs, and may present with associated learning disability, or disorders of other organ systems. 

Friedreich ataxia involves a global movement disorder and cardiac abnormalities; Joubert syndrome is characterized by a global development delay and disordered eye movements 1.

The Dandy-Walker malformation involves agenesis of the cerebellar vermis, dilation of the fourth ventricle secondary to obstruction of the foramina of Luschka and Magendie, which results in an enlargement of the posterior fossa 2

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Schematic of brain embryogenesis
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  • Figure 2: Brain development
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