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You are watching: Which brain structure relays incoming sensory information

StatPearls . Endowment Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.



The nervous system subdivides right into the main nervous system and the peripheral worried system. The central nervous system is the mind and spinal cord, if the peripheral nervous system consists of every little thing else. The central nervous system"s responsibilities encompass receiving, processing, and responding come sensory information.  

The brain is an organ of nervous tissue that is responsible for responses, sensation, movement, emotions, communication, believed processing, and also memory. Protection for the human brain comes from the skull, meninges, and also cerebrospinal fluids. The nervous tissue is exceptionally delicate and can suffer damages by the the smallest amount the force. In addition, it has actually a blood-brain barrier staying clear of the mind from any type of harmful substance that could be floating in the blood.

The spinal cord is a an essential aspect the the CNS uncovered within the vertebral column. The purpose of the spinal cord is come send motor commands from the mind to the peripheral body and also to relay sensory info from the sensory organs to the brain. Spinal cord security is through bone, meninges, and also cerebrospinal fluids.

Structure and Function

The mind is broken up right into two hemispheres, the left, and also the right. If they room in constant communication, the left and right hemisphere room responsible for various behaviors, well-known as mind lateralization. The left hemisphere is more dominant v language, logic, and also math abilities. The appropriate hemisphere is much more creative, being leading in artistic and also musical situations, and also intuition. 

Cerebral cortex: The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer that surrounds the brain. The is written of gray matter and filled with billions of neurons supplied to command high-level executive functions. The cortex divides into 4 lobes; frontal, parietal, occipital, and also temporal by various sulci.<1> The frontal lobe, situated anteriorly come the central sulcus, is responsible because that voluntary motor function, problem-solving, attention, memory, and also language. Located in the frontal lobe room the motor cortex and also the Broca area. The motor cortex permits for the precise voluntary movements of ours skeletal muscles, if the Broca area controls motor attributes responsible for creating language. The parietal lobe is separated indigenous the occipital lobe by the parieto-occipital sulcus and also is behind the central sulcus. That is responsible for processing sensory information and contains the somatosensory cortex. Neurons in the parietal lobe receive details from sensory and proprioceptors throughout the body, process the can, and type an understanding around what is gift touched based upon previous knowledge. The occipital lobe, well-known as the visual processing center, has the intuitive cortex. Similar to the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe receives details from the retina and then provides past visual experiences to interpret and also recognize the stimuli. Lastly, the temporal lobe processes auditory stimuli through the listening cortex. Mechanoreceptors located in the hair cell lining the cochlea space activated by sound energy, which consequently sends impulses come the hear cortex. The advertise is processed and also stored based upon previous experiences. The Wernicke area is in the temporal lobe and functions in decided comprehension. 

Basal nuclei: The basal nuclei, also known together basal ganglia, is situated deep in ~ the cerebral white matter and is created of the caudate nucleus, putamen, and also globus pallidus. This structures type the pallidum and striatum. The basal ganglia room responsible because that muscle movements and also coordination.<2>

Thalamus: The thalamus is the relay center of the brain. The receives afferent impulses from sensory receptors situated throughout the body and also processes the info for circulation to the suitable cortical area. That is likewise responsible for regulating consciousness and also sleep.

Hypothalamus: While the hypothalamus is just one of the smallest parts of the brain, that is crucial to preserving homeostasis. The hypothalamus associate the main nervous device to the endocrine system. That is responsible for heart rate, blood pressure, appetite, thirst, temperature, and the relax of assorted hormones. The hypothalamus likewise communicates with the pituitary gland to release or inhibit antidiuretic hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, development hormone-releasing hormone, prolactin inhibiting hormone, thyroid publication hormone, and oxytocin.<3>

Pons: uncovered in the brainstem, the pons connect the medulla oblongata and the thalamus. It is created of tracts responsible for relaying impulses from the engine cortex come the cerebellum, medulla, and thalamus.

Medulla oblongata: The medulla oblongata is in ~ the bottom the the mind stem, where the spinal cord meets the foramen magnum that the skull. The is responsible because that autonomic functions, some of which are crucial for survival. The medulla oblongata monitors the bodies respiratory mechanism using chemoreceptors. These receptors space able come detect changes in blood chemistry. Because that example, if the blood is too acidic, the medulla oblongata will rise the respiratory tract rate permitting for more oxygen to with the blood.<4> the is likewise a cardiovascular and also vasomotor center. The medulla oblongata deserve to regulate the body"s blood pressure, pulse, and also cardiac contractions based on the body’s needs. Lastly, that controls reflexes favor vomiting, swallowing, coughing, and sneezing.

Cerebellum: The cerebellum, also known together the little brain, is responsible for smooth, coordinated voluntary movements. It subdivides into three lobes: the anterior, posterior, and also flocculonodular lobes. The cerebellum consists of a cerebellar circuit, using Purkinje cells and also cerebellar peduncles to connect to other parts that the brain. The premium cerebellar peduncle is written of white matter that connects the cerebellum to the midbrain and allows for coordination in the arms and also legs. The inferior cerebellar peduncle associate the medulla and cerebellum utilizing proprioceptors to preserve balance and posture. Lastly, the middle cerebellar peduncle is provided as a one-way communication method from the pons come the cerebellum. The is largely composed the afferent fibers the alert the cerebellum about voluntary motor actions. The cerebellum is in consistent communication through the cerebral cortex, acquisition higher-level instructions around the brain’s intentions, processing them v the cerebellar cortex, then sending messages to the cerebral engine cortex to make voluntary muscle contractions. These contractions space calculated to recognize the force, direction, and momentum important to ensure each contraction is smooth and also coordinated.

Limbic System: The limbic device is composed of the piriform cortex, hippocampus, septal nuclei, amygdala, cell core accumbens, hypothalamus, and also anterior nuclei the the thalamus.<5> The fornix and fiber tracts attach the limbic system parts enabling them to control emotion, memory, and motivation. The piriform cortex is part of the olfactory system and is in the cortical area the the limbic system. The hypothalamus receives many of the limbic output, which explains psychosomatic illnesses, whereby emotional stressors reason somatic symptoms. Because that example, a patient that is right now having financial struggles can present to his primary care physician with hypertension and also tachycardia. The septal nuclei, amygdala, and also nucleus accumbens are discovered in the subcortical areas and are responsible because that pleasure, emotional processing, and also addiction, respectively.

Reticular formation: Reticular development is an extensive network that pathways containing neurons that starts in the brainstem and also travels native the peak of the midbrain to the medulla oblongata. These pathways have projecting reticular neurons that influence the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, thalamus, hypothalamus, and also spinal cord. The reticular development controls the body"s level that consciousness v the reticular activation system, likewise known as RAS. Sensory axons, uncovered in visual, auditory, and sensory impulses, activate RAS neurons in the mind stem. These neurons climate relay info to the thalamus and cerebrum. Continuous stimulation that the RAS neurons causes the cerebrum to stay in an aroused state; this offers the emotion of alertness. However, RAS deserve to filter the end repetitive, weak stimuli; this avoids the mind from responding come unimportant information, as well as being sensory overloaded.

Spinal cord: The spinal cord suitable extends indigenous the foramen magnum the the skull come the first or second lumbar vertebrae. It create a two-way pathway between the mind and the body and also divides into four regions -  cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. These areas are then damaged down right into 31 segments v 31 bag of spinal nerves. There space 8 cervical nerves, 12 thoracic nerves, 5 lumbar nerves, 5 sacral nerves, and also 1 coccygeal nerve. Every nerve exits the vertebral shaft passing through the intervertebral foramina and to the designated ar in the body.

Due come cervical and also lumbar enlargements, the spinal cord differs in width throughout the structure. The cervical enlargement wake up at C3 to T1, and the lumbar enlargement is at L1 to S2. The white matter is current on the external of the spinal cord, through gray matter situated in its core and also cerebrospinal fluid in the main canal. The gray commissure, the dorsal, lateral, and ventral horns are all written of gray matter. The gray commissure surrounds the main canal. The dorsal horns space made that interneurons, when the ventral horns are somatic engine neurons. Afferent neurons in the dorsal roots carry impulses indigenous the body’s sensory receptor to the spinal cord, whereby the information begins to be processed. The ventral horns save on computer efferent engine neurons, which regulate the body"s periphery. The axons of engine neurons are found in the body"s skeletal and smooth muscle to regulate both involuntary and voluntary reflexes.   

The spinal cord end in a cone-shaped structure dubbed conus medullaris and also is sustained to the finish of the coccyx through the filum terminale. Ligaments are found throughout the spinal column, securing the spinal cord from top to bottom.

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Ascending pathway to the brain: Sensory details travels from the body to the spinal cord before reaching the brain. This details ascends upwards making use of first, second, and third-order neurons. First-order neurons get impulses from skin and also proprioceptors and also send them come the spinal cord. They then synapse with second-order neurons. Second-order neurons live in the dorsal horn and also send impulses to the thalamus and cerebellum. Lastly, third-order neurons pick up this impulses in the thalamus and relay it come the somatosensory portion of the cerebrum. Somatosensory sensations room pressure, pain, temperature, and also the body"s senses. 

Descending pathway: Descending tracts send motor signals from the mind to lower motor neurons. This efferents neurons then develop muscle movement.<6>