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Monet: The Bridge at Argenteuil. The Spinal Cord. Not Just an Passive Conduit!. Spinal Cord. Extends from foramen magnum to L2 Central Gray matter (association neurons/processes) and peripheral white matter (myelinated nerves)

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the spinal cord

The Spinal Cord

Not Just an Passive Conduit!

spinal cord
Spinal Cord
  • Extends from foramen magnum to L2
  • Central Gray matter (association neurons/processes) and peripheral white matter (myelinated nerves)
  • Gray matter shaped like “H” with posterior, anterior and lateral horns
Posterior: Sensory Neurons, Association Neurons (reflexes)
  • Anterior: Motor Neurons
  • Lateral: Sympathetic Autonomic Motor Neurons
  • Nerve Pathways: groups of ascending and descending nerve axons within white tissue of cord.
nerve pathways
Nerve Pathways
  • Names tell function (first part = origin)
  • i.e Spinothalamic: originates in spinal cord and terminates in thalamus
  • Ascending Patways: 2-3 neurons in sequence
  • Somatic (motor) nerves are in 2 locations :
motor nerves
Motor Nerves
  • Lower motor neurons: located in spinal gray matter or brainstem
  • Axons extend to muscles
  • Upper motor neurons: Motor Cortex, Cerebellum, or Brainstem: Descend to medulla, cross to opposite side of cord and connect to lower neurons
cerebrospinal fluid
Cerebrospinal Fluid
  • bathes brain and spinal cord (flows) providing protection
  • Produced by Choroid Plexus in brain: Capillary/Ependymal structure surrounding ventricles
  • Chemicals can get into this fluid & influence brain activity
  • i.e. altitude incr. CO2 & H+ in CSF, this stimulates the hypothalamus to incr. breathing & incr. urineoutput.
  • Read: 211-217 and 202-203 (Reflexes and Neuronal Circuits)
  • First Exam will be the week of Sept. 18 (Either Weds/Friday)
  • The Exam will cover the Nervous System: Chapter 8
the spinal cord1

The Spinal Cord

Anatomy and Reflexes

spinal cord coloring guide
Spinal Cord: Coloring Guide
  • As the spinal cord exits the skull, it is continuous with the medulla: Color the “cervical segment” Red (AC: C1-C8)
  • Note: At the Cervical Enlargement, nerves exit to serve the upper limbs
color guide
Color Guide:
  • The second segment is the Thoracic Segment:Color Blue (AT: T1-T12)
  • The final segment to be colored is the Lumbar Segment:Color Green (AL: L1-L5)*
  • Note: The Lumbar enlargement serves the lower limbs (A2)
spinal cord cross section
Spinal Cord Cross Section:
  • Note: Nerves exit between adjacent vertebrae via the intervertebral foramen
  • The spinal nerves exiting the cord are bundles of both ascending and descending nerve fibers: Color Purple (D)
spinal nerves
Spinal Nerves:
  • Nerves extending from the ventral aspect of the spinal cord are called the ventral root:Color red (C2)
    • These are descending motor nerves
  • Nerves extending from the dorsal spinal cord are the dorsal root:Color blue (C1)
    • These are ascending sensory nerves
gray matter color green b
Gray Matter: Color Green (B)
  • Dorsal (Posterior) Horn: Think “Dorsal root” – Sensory neurons and association neurons
  • Ventral (Anterior) Horn: Think “Ventral root” – motor neurons
  • Lateral Horn: Sympathetic neurons (more later!)
reflex activity


Reflex Activity
  • What happens when you accidentally touch your hand to a hot stove?
  • Do you sit and think? NO!
  • You withdraw your hand almost before you even realize it’s fried!




  • The sensory signal is sent directly to the spinal column
  • It crosses association neurons-motor neurons, which initiate an immediate response
  • sensory info is also sent to CNS (but response has already begun)
the reflex arc
The “Reflex Arc”
  • Sensory receptor
  • Afferent Neuron
  • Association Neurons
  • Efferent (motor) Neuron
  • Effector Organ (Skeletal or Smooth)
cranial and spinal nerves
Cranial and Spinal Nerves
  • Cranial Nerves: 12 pairs (right and left) originating from brainstem (10) and cerebrum (2)
  • Afferent and/or Efferent:
    • Somatic
    • Parasympathetic
  • Names/Roman Numeral designations (Vagus: X)
interesting cranial nerves
Interesting Cranial Nerves
  • Trigeminal (V): Both sensory and motor
    • Senses: facial skin, teeth and dentists love to dismantle this nerve!
    • Motor: Well, you know how fun it is to leave the dentist with this one deadened!
another interesting one
Another interesting one…
  • Vagus (X): Sensory to airways, viscera; Motor to the smooth muscle of the airways, and PSNS to the heart/lung/gut etc.
    • Vagus From “vagabond” to wonder
    • Vagal Tone: seen in well trained athletes with very low heart rates
spinal nerves1
Spinal Nerves:
  • 31 pairs exit intervertebral foramen
    • After exit: Join to become “Plexus”
  • Afferent and Efferent:
  • Somatic and Autonomic
interesting spinal nerves
Interesting Spinal Nerves:
  • Phrenic Nerve: Originating from the cervical plexus, innervates the diaphragm muscle (BREATHING
    • The “wind knocked out of me”…
    • Hiccups after heart surgery
    • Predict question: page223?
radial and ulnar nerves
Radial and Ulnar Nerves
  • Radial: “Crutch paralysis”
  • Ulnar: Ever hit your “Funny Bone”? It’s not a bone at all – but the ulnar nerve!
peripheral nervous system
Peripheral Nervous System:
  • Definition: Neurons and processes found outside the central nervous system – Includes:
    • All Sensory Neurons (Afferent)
    • Axons from motor neurons (somatic efferent)
    • Autonomic Motor neurons: preganlionic axons and all postganlions
begin reviewing nervous system
Begin Reviewing Nervous System:
  • Summary (Page 228-230)
    • Check your understanding by reviewing the topics covered up to Peripheral Nervous System
    • Be able to answer Content Review Questions: (1-10, 12-17, 20-24)