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Somatosensory System - AFFERENT (PNS to CNS)

Detect/transmit internal and external information from the environment to the CNS

o
Specialized sensory receptors for detection
o
Specialized CNS regions for perception/interpretation of info to construct image of events
Sensory Receptors
Specialized structures at distal ends of peripheral neurons

Detect and transduce info about enviro changes from PNS to CNS

Adequate stimulus -each type of receptor is designed to respond and have sensitivity to a specific

type of stimulus
o
Everywhere - skin, muscles, joint capsules
o
i.e. temp, mechanical deformation, deep pressure, vibration, combination of these
Somatosensory Neurons
Cell body/soma in Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) - groups of cell bodies for somatosensory

neurons that extend to the periphery


o
Peripheral and central processes
o
Peripheral process specialized for detection of an adequate stimulus
o
Pseudo-unipolar neuron with two processes
Peripheral process - with specialized ending that projects to PNS - responds to adequate

stimulus
Central process - from dorsal root ganglion to s-cord with normal axon terminal ending
communicates info from PNS to CNS
o
Info transduction -transform changes in the adequate stimulus into changes in neuronal
discharge (AP's)
o
AP propagates from periphery to central process and synapses with s-cord neuron (grey matter)
o
Stimulus intensity/strength determined by number of AP's transmitted to CNS
Discharge frequency continues as long as stimulus exceed threshold (-55mv

depolarization) until adaptation occurs


Adaptation

Peripheral adaptation - Sensory receptor burnout - become less responsive/sensitive


to a sustained stimulus until stimulus removed and receptors can reset

Centralized adaptation -Perception- through CNS - ignoring continual input (i.e.


feeling of clothing touching your skin

Sensory Receptors
First three respond to only one adequate stimulus

o
Mechanoreceptors
Mechanical deformation of receptor/adjacent cells

Touch, pressure (sustained touch), stretch or vibration

i.e. stretch activated ion channels - deformation alters position of proteins opening
protein channel allowing ionic flow (Na+ enters and depolarizes cell creating AP to send info
to CNS)
o
Thermoreceptors
Temperature changes

o
Chemoreceptors
Chemicals

o
o

Respond to more than one adequate stimulus


Nociceptors
Painful, potentially damaging stimuli
Extreme temperatures, inflammatory chemicals, high levels of mechanical deformation

Organ

Receptor

Adequate Stimulus

Skin

Many types

Mechanical deformation

Muscle Proprioceptor
s
s

Mechanical deformation

Joints

Joint
receptors

Mechanical deformation

Nose

Rods

Molecular structure

Tongue

Glomeruli

Molecular structure

Eyes

Rods and
cones

Electromagnetic waves
of light

Ears

Organ of
Cortii

Sound waves

Mechanoreceptors of Touch
Superficial
receptors

Modality/Sensat
ion

Meissner's
corpuscles

Light touch,
vibration

Merkel's disks
(most superficial)

Pressure

Hair follicle
displacement
(deepest)

Hair displacement

Different specialized receptors allow for the ID


Of the quality of the sensory info transmitted

First order

Receptor to medulla

Second
order

Medulla to thalamus

Third order

Thalamus to cerebral
cortex

Sensory System

Organized into specialized subsystems (modalities -sight, sound, smell, taste, touch,
proprioception) based on
o
Specialized receptors
o
Dedicated pathways -topographically and somatotopically organized
o
Control centers - perceptive centers (primary somatosensory cortex) -perceive the
meaning of sensory info (what is stimulus and how is it affecting me?)
Have output connections that can affect behavior

Homunculi -run left to right across top of brain


Primary motor cortex (precentral gyrus)

Primary somatosensory cortex (postcentral gyrus) -face, teeth mouth largest - feet and hands second

largest
Primary Somatosensory System

Dorsal Column Medial Lemniscus System (DCML)


Dorsal Column (in s-cord) Medial Lemniscus System (in caudal part of medulla within brain
stem) (DCML)

Discriminative touch - localized touch/vibration - i.e. quality of touch - object size, shape and texture
Conscious proprioception -awareness of movements and relative position of body parts (good test
for neurological deficit - if damage to area wouldnt know where body was without seeing it -smaller joints
are more accurate i.e. toe)
Info transmitted contralaterally from mechanoreceptors to primary somatosensory cortex
High fidelity system -accurate detail of location due to anatomic arrangement of axons in pathway
o
Somatotropinc organization (arranged anatomically similar to the body

Fasciculus Gracills
o
T7 and below (below sternum) - Sacral and Lumbar -lower extremities and trunk
o
Transmits to the gracile nucleus in the caudal medulla
o
Light touch, vibration and sense of position from contralateral leg and lower trunk


o
o
o

Corticospinal Tract
Lumbar, Thoracic and Cervical

o
o
o
o

o
o

Fasciculus Cuneatus
T6 and above -Thoracic and Cervical -upper extremities and trunk
Transmits to the cuneate nucleus in the caudal medulla
Light touch, vibration and position sense from contralateral arm and upper trunk

Anterolateral (Spinothalamic) System (ALS) - two tracts


Conscious
Pain - fast (sharp) and slow (dull/achey)
Temperature -hot/cold
Crude touch -poorly localized touch -something is touching me (cant tell what)
Spinothalamic Tract
Crossed system
Pain, temperature
Sacral, Lumbar, Thoracic, and cervical

Neospiothalamic tract
Fast pain

Paleospinothalamic tract -Divergent pathway


Slow (dull achey pain)

Spinocerebellar System
Unconscious proprioception (motor system) - doesnt rise to level of consciousness but
helps develop smooth and coordinated movements
Does intended action match what actually happened?

ipsilateral
Body position sense, joint position sense, joint velocity and joint acceleration
Dorsal spinocerebellar tract (DSCT)

Cuneocerebellar tract

Ventral spinocerebellar tract (VSCT)

Rostrospinocerebellar tract

Somatosensory projection

Conscious
pathway
High Fidelity

Tract

Receptors

DCML -Dorsal
Column
Medial
Lemniscus

Mechanorecepto Fasciculus
rs
cuneatus T6
and up
Light
(opposite arm/
Touch/vibration upper trunk)

Discriminative
Somatotropica touch -ID
Joint receptors
lly organized
objects shape
size texture
Muscle spindles
Crossed
system (@
Conscious
medulla)
Proprioceptio
contralateral
n

Divisions

First
Order
Neurons

Second
Order
Neurons

Third Order Neurons

In DRG or
CN V
ganglion

Cuneate or
gracilis
nucleus in
medulla or
sensory area
in CN V

VPL (body) nucleus in


thalamus for gracillis and
cuneatus

Crosses
midline
(decussates)
at medulla

Projects to primary
somatosensory cortex via
posterior limb of internal
capsule

Distal AX
to
receptor

Fasciculus
gracillis
T7 and down
Proximal
(opposite
AX to 2nd
leg/lower trunk order
neuron
Trigeminal
lemniscus

VPM (face) nucleus for


Trigeminal (CN V)

Projects to
thalamus

Ascend
Ipsilateral
Lesion of the left fasciculus gracilis at T8 produces what impairment?
No light touch, vibration or position sensation in the left leg and lower left trunk

Fasciculus gracilis exists only below T6

Because the tract has not decussated the impairment is ipsilateral to the lesion

Lesion of first order neurons interrupts ascending info so light touch, vibration and position is

imapried at these areas


Receptors and reflex connections below this lesion level remain in tact

Anterolateral Spinothalamic (ALS)


Tract
Conscious
pathway
Pain,
temperature,
crude touch
opposite
side of the
body

Receptors

Anterolateral Nociceptors
Spinothalamic
Tract (ALS)
Free nerve
endings
Chemoreceptors

Divisions
Neospinothalami
c tract
Fast/discriminative
pain/sharp pain

yelinated

igh fidelity

First Order
Neurons

Second Order
Neurons

Third Order Neu

Free nerve
ending/
chemoreceptor
in DRG
M
Synapses in
Hdorsal horn grey
matter (lamina I,
II, V)

In Lamina I, II, V

VPL nucleus of tha

Free nerve
ending/
chemoreceptor
in DRG

In Lamina I, II, V

Crosses midline
Projects to primar
at s-cord and
somatosensory co
ascends on
opposite side
ventrolaterally to
VPL of thalamus

Crossed
system (@
entry to scord)
contralateral
Medial Pain
system
Slow/diffuse
pain/dull
aching pain
Temperature
Automatic
movements,
autonomic

Nociceptors
Free nerve
endings
Chemoreceptors

Paleospinothala
mic tract
Slow/diffuse
pain/dull aching

Crosses midline
at s-cord and
ascends on
Synapses in
opposite side
dorsal horn grey ventrolaterally as
matter (lamina I, ALS
II, V)

Projects to many
areas of the brain

Spinomesencep
midbrain

Spinolimbic
to amgdyala, bas
ganglia, or cerebr

Spinoreticular
to reticular forma

response
and
emotional
response to
pain
Lesion of the right lateral spinothalamic tract at T7 would produce what impairment?
Absence of pain and temperature sensation on the left side of the body generalized below T7

Because lesion involves second order neurons that have already decussated, impairment is

contralateral to the lesion


Interruption of the right ALS causes the absence of pain temperature sensation to the opposite

side of the body


Lesion of the right lateral medulla would produce what impairment?
Absence of pain/temp sensation on the ipsilateral face and the contralateral body (Lateral

medullary or Wallenberg syndrome)


Impaired pain, temperature touch on the right side of the face

Impaired pain temperature touch on the left side of the body

Because lesion involves first order neurons in the trigeminal system before decussation facial

impairment is ipsilateral to lesion


Because lesion involves second order neurons in the ALS after decussation body impairment is

contralateral to the lesion


Impairs pain and temp sensation

Anterolateral System- Fast pain


Lesion
Effect on fast pain and
Location
temp sensation
Cerebrum
Midbrain
Upper pons

Entirely contralateral loss

Lower pons
Medulla

Crossed analgesia
-contralateral body and
ipsilateral face

When
trigeminal and
spinothalamic axons
are interrupted

Contral
ateral loss from face
if the trigeminal
lemniscus axons are
interrupted

Spinal region

Loss of pain/temp
sensation from
contralateral body one or
two levels below lesion

Peripheral
region

Ipsilateral loss

Spinocerebellar tract -Unconscious -Uncrossed -Ipsilateral Sensory/ internal Feedback system


Proprioceptive info from muscle tendon and joint neurons to cerebellum

Mechanoreceptors Tendons, muscles and joints

NO THIRD ORDER NEURONS

Together tracts allow cerebellum to compare the intended motor plan with the actual motor

activity that is executed


Allows for correction of motor activity for coordination

Sensory Pathways
Tract

Receptors

First Order Neurons

Second Order
Neurons

High fidelity

Dorsal
Spinocerebellar
Somatotrophi tract (DSCT)
c
organization

T1 to L2

Cuneocerebellar
tract

In Clarke's nucleus
to cerebellum

Proximal axon in dorsal columns


Synapse in Clarke's Nucleus
(nucleus dorsalis -T1 to L2 ) in
the dorsal horn of the s-cord

Sensory
High fidelity

Sensory neuron in DRG

C8 up

Somatotrophi
c
organization

Ipsilateral to
Inferior
Cerebellar
Peduncle (ICP)

Sensory neuron in DRG

Ipsilateral to
Inferior
Dorsal column to caudal medulla Cerebellar
Peduncle (ICP)
Synapse in lateral cuneate
nucleus

Sensory
Motor Info Pathways
Internal feedback Ventral
from descending
Spinocerebellar
motor pathways
tract (VCST)

Thoracolumbar scord to cerebellum

Descending motor
projections to
LMNs of s-cord

Ipsilateral to Superior Cerebellar


Peduncle (SCP)

Provide descending motor pathways


Crosses midline
with information about the intended
but supplies info to motor activity before the motor
both sides of the
neuron fires
cerebellum

Automatic
coordination of
motor function
Internal feedback
from descending
motor pathways

In dorsal and
lateral horns of
thoracolumbar scord

Rotrospinocerebe Cervical s-cord


llar tract
(upper extremities)
to cerebellum

In dorsal and
lateral horn of
cervical spine

Ipsilateral to Superior Cerebellar


Peduncle (SCP) AND Inferior
Cerebellar Peduncle

Descending motor
projections to
LMNs of s-cord

Ascend
ipsilaterally and
stay ipsilateral

Provide descending motor pathways


with information about the intended
motor activity before the motor
neuron fires

Automatic
coordination of
motor function

Fully normal proprioception requires muscle spindles, joint receptors and cutaneous
mechanoreceptors + afferents (ligament reveptrors , ruffini's endings, paciniform endings, and free nerve endings