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Welcome back to our discussion of the

mechanosensory systems which are part of
our broader systems we have within our
bodies for processing somatosensory
information.
All of this pertains to several
foundational concepts in the field of
neuroscience.
Two in particular that I would highlight
are, of course, our first one that should
be very familiar to you now that the brain
is the body's most complex organ.
And also, that there are genetically
determined circuits within the brain that
are truly the foundation for the
operations of the nervous system.
And so we're going to focus, in this
tutorial, on 1 such circuit.
We'll call it a pathway.
It's a pathway that allows mechanosensory
signals to get from our surfaces where
they're detected, such as our skin
surfaces on the tips of our fingers, all
the way up to the appropriate processing
stations in the cerebral cortex.
So, our learning objectives are for you to
characterize and recognize, and you'll see
these pairs of terms played out across
several distinct mechanosensory pathways.
First I'd like for you to be able to
characterize the pathway known as, known
as the dorsal-column medial lemniscal
system.
I'd like for you to be able to recognize
components of this pathway when you
actually confront them in images of the
central nervous system.
Be they views of the brain from the
outside, histological sections through the
brain or the spinal cord, or some other
conceptualization of elements of these
pathways.
So here we're focusing on the
dorsal-column medial lemniscal system
which is long term but very descriptive.
It tells you about one particular pathway.
Another pathway is the corresponding
mechanosensory pathway for the face, and
this runs through the trigeminal nerve.
And components of the trigeminal nuclear
complex of the brain stem, so again I want
you to be able to characterize the pathway
and recognize the elements when we
actually look inside the nervous system.
And lastly I want to introduce you to a
pathway that gets mechanosensory feedback
about the movements of the body into the
cerebellum.
The cerebellum is a marvelous organ that
facilitates agility.

and there is a pathway that we call the dorsal column medial lemiscal system. we'll spend an entire set of tutorials thinking together about the cerebellum. That gets information about movement from the spinal cord into the cerebellum. so that will be a pathway for Mechano-sensation. and.Be it agility of bodily movement or agility of thought and. I want you to be able to recognize components of that pathway. And that will help you translate your foundational knowledge in medical neuroscience to the care and treatment of individuals with neurological injury and disease. Because I want you to begin to build up. called the chief or principal sensory nucleus of the trigeminal complex. we have a pathway that runs through the division of the trigeminal complex of the brain stem. there's a pathway of the trigeminal nerve that runs through a different part of the trigeminal brain stem. A mental model of the nervous system and being able to recognize the components as they actually appear will be key for the success of your mental frame work or your mental model so that way you can consider what happens when elements of that model becomes damaged Or dysfunctional. That pathway is called the anterolateral system. It has elements of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord and the medial lemniscus. Now there's also a pathway that mediates pain and temperatures that we'll look at in a separate tutorial for the post cranial body. "post" meaning posterior to the cranium. For tutorial. one for the body below the back of the head including the back of the head. . Well let me introduce again the pathways and then we'll look at them one at a time. And the recognition part is really key in this tutorial and it will be key for the rest of the course. We call this the post-cranial body. I include it here for completeness. an important pathway in the brain stem. For pain and temperature. sensation. when you're confronted with them. And as usual. And now for the face we have a corresponding pair of pathways. So for our conscious awareness of mechanosensory stimuli there are two pairs of pathways. I want to introduce the pathway. For mechanical.

well. well. . we'd find axons and nerves. so three things to focus on in this pathway and all the others we'll look at in the next few tutorials. Well. Okay. let me just ask you. well somewhere in gray matter within the central nervous system or perhaps in a ganglion if we're talking about something outside the central nervous system. the distribution of the axons of those cell bodies. Well. I want you to consider the distribution of their axons. also a great answer. As we go from skin to cortex. So let me just give you the broad overview of this pathway and then we'll look at more magnified views of this figure so that you can see things more clearly. Now. This pathway from mechanosensation involves three neurons. I'll make a few points in general terms. gray matter. That is the location of cell bodies. where would we find cell bodies? Hopefully your answer is. 'Kay so. And for the peripheral nervous system. So. maybe just a little bit more thought about that leads you to answer. and then the locations of the synaptic junctions. what about synapses? Where would we find synapses? Well. we have a view of the entire pathway taken from our companion textbook and this is probably really small on whatever size screen you're using to view this right now. I want you to consider where are their cell bodies. called dorsal-column medial lemniscal system. let's begin by thinking together about this pathway for the mechanical stimulation for the post cranial body.A subdivision of that complex called the spinal trigeminal nucleus. And thirdly I want you to be able to discuss and to illustrate the location of the synaptic connections from 1 axon to the dendrites of another neuron in the serial pathway. Okay? So I want you to focus on these three neurons. I might ask you where would we find axons? Well hopefully you would say in the central nervous system we'd find axons in white matter. That's great if that was your answer.

It sweeps across the tegmentum of the medulla. So here it is right there in the cervical enlargement of the spinal cord. establish the location of the decussation of this pathway. but it's also the input zone of another.Synapses are the output zone of one neuron. So for every pathway we consider. pathway begins with a first order neuron. our third neuron. That central process enters the dorsal column and ascends. we want to remember that for the cerebral hemispheres there's a principle of contra-lateral representation that we must solve. So they have a peripheral process as we saw in the last tutorial. So the dorsal column nuclei was our second order neuron. Specialized to establish some labeled lines some particular aspect in mechano-sensation. Specifically in the dorsal part of the tegmentum. and our third order neuron . or DCN for short. And synapses on the next neuron in the pathway which is in the thalamus. it runs the longitudinal length of the spinal cord until we hit a set of nuclei on top of the dorsal column and those nuclei exist in the caudal part of the medulla. contralateral representation is established in the caudal medulla with the outgrowth of the second order axon. Which is a dorsal root ganglion neuron. These are the first order neurons. Okay. So in the case of the mechanosensory pathway. So. let's keep those thoughts in mind as we look at this pathway in some detail. so those neurons then grow axons that do something really important. and ascends the rest of the way through the brain stem. They cross the mid-line and as they do they. So we would find synapses in grey matter. And then the central process enters the spinal cord. this paths. Well. So that's where we find the synapses for the next neuron in the pathway. That's what we have at this level. And here's the dorsal root ganglion in the lumbar enlargement of the spinal cord. specifically the ventral posterior lateral nucleus of the thalamus and that's what we have here. Great. We call them dorsal column nuclei.

the cuneate tract begins to form in the upper thoracic cord and then runs on up through the entire cervical . let's have a bit of a closer look. given that scale. the gracile tract runs the entire length. which is significant of course. and a lateral cuneate tract. I. hundreds a millions of neurons that potentially could be modulated by this sensory stream. Now we can see a little bit more clearly. the thalamic cells provide input on up to the post-central gyrus. we basically abandon trying to order the neurons. As we contribute axons from increasingly superior directions. I trust. well. Once we reach the post-central gyrus. An important distinction between the afferents/g that arise in a cervical enlargement and those that arise in the lumbar enlargement. We'll see them shortly in Sylvius. The first order axons from the lower part of the spinal cord enter the dorsal column near the more medial aspect of. There is a medial gracile tract. the input.is in the ventral posterior lateral nucleus. So. And from there. because we recognize that When the thalamus projects to the cortex we're providing input to a vast network involving. those axons add to the lateral aspect of that dorsal column. As a result of this progression in the cervical spinal cord we recognize a division of the dorsal column into two parts. at that point. because we're talking about mechanosensory signals from the upper extremity. So again. when we reach the cervical cord. it just doesn't service well to continue the numbering scheme that Has served us well along the pathway from skin up through the thalamus. Consequently. They simply add to the lateral side to the dorsal column. So that's our third-order neuron. our first-order neuron is a dorsal-root ganglion cell. And we'll focus in on the first-order neuron making a connection to the second-order neuron. So there's a medial to lateral progression as axons contribute. Alright. These two pathways run the length of the spinal cord. The dorsal column on one side of the spinal cord.

It's really the very same axons. We just give them different terms and different locations. Okay? So. They make synaptic connections in the thalamus. then. these are second order axons. we have an indication of at least two axons that are ascending from the dorsal column nuclei To the ventral posterior lateral nucleus of the thalamus. After they've crossed the mid-line. And it's this fiber bundle that we call the medial lemniscus. And that fiber Is communicating somatic sensory signals from the lower extremity. in particular. we give that a particular name. For example. Now once they cross the midline. The thalamic neuron from the VPL that terminates here near the middle of the precentral gyrus is being driven by an . Okay? So that's where we find our first synapse in this pathway. or ML for short. When they're crossing the mid-line. from there. I'll just draw a bunch of them here. And project in the superior direction. OK. And the second order neuron. tract. they form a distinctive medial ribbon of white matter that we call the medial lemniscus. the fiber that is projecting here into the para-central lobule is a fiber that was activated by the gracile tract. the vpl.enlargement. the axons project into the post central gyrus. We'll let's see the medial lemiscus as we blow up the top half of this figure from our book. now they make a sharp turn. And then. they're the internal arcuate fibers. It's simply the second order axons as they cross the midline. And these tracts meet a nucleus at the top of the column there was 1 nucleus on top each tract there's a nucleus called the gracile nucleus that sits on top the gracile tract and then a nucleus called the cuneate nucleus. We call that the internal arcuate fibers. And as these axons sweep across the mid-line. again. which is part of this dorsal column nuclear complex grows an axon that sweeps across the mid-line. That sits on top of the cuneate. And they do so in sematotopic order. So now. In the vpl.

Okay. So this is an input that's being driven by what we did with our contra-lateral arm or hand. well I hope that was clear. . I took some time to go through this quite slowly. So the exquisite body map that we talked about in the previous tutorial is established by the systematic ordering of axons from the thalamus projecting into the precentral gyrus. We won't take quite so much time as we talk through the next two pathways. Okay.axon that entered the spinal cord in the cuneate tract.