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Encyclopedia > Lateral spinothalamic tract

The spinothalamic tract is the sensory pathway in the body that transmits pain, temperature, itch and crude touch. These types of sensation cross over to the other side of the body at the spinal cord, not in the brainstem like the posterior column-medial lemniscus pathway and corticospinal tract.


The name spinothalamic tells us sensation runs up the spinal cord to the thalamus, this is true but misleading, as all sensory pathways synapse at the thalamus.


There are two main parts of the spinothalamic tract (STT). The lateral spinothalamic tract transmits pain and temperature, the anterior (or ventral in animals) spinothalamic tract transmits touch.


The types of sensory information trasmitted via the STT are described as affective sensation. This means that the sensation is accompanied by a compulsion to act. For instance an itch is accompanied by a need to scratch, and a painful stimulus makes us want to withdraw from the pain.


Path of sensation

Unipolar neurons (those with only one long process) in the dorsal root ganglion have axons that lead from the skin, into the dorsal spinal cord where they synapse with secondary neurons in the marginal nucleus. These secondary neurons are called tract cells.


The axons of the tract cells cross over to the other side of the spinal cord via the white commissure, and to the ventrolateral corner of the spinal cord. The axons travel up the length of the spinal cord into the brainstem.


Travelling up the brainstem, the tract moves dorsally, as the neurons ultimately synapse with the thalamus.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Neuroanatomy (1191 words)
The substantia gelatinosa and dorsal lateral fasciculus are prominent at this level, and throughout the upper cervical cord as well, because these structures are overlapped by the spinal nucleus and the spinal tract of the trigeminal nerve which carry sensation from the ipsilateral face.
The spinal nucleus and tract of the trigeminal nerve, the spinothalamic tract, fasciculus cuneatus and fasciculus gracilis, and the beginning of nucleus gracilis should also be identified on this slide.
The crescent-shaped bands of fibers that lie between the cerebral peduncles and the decussation of the superior cerebellar peduncles contain fibers of the medial lemnisci, the spinothalamic tracts, and the lateral lemnisci.
Neurological background : Ascending spinal tracts (1374 words)
This system is usually described as a system composed of two tracts: the lateral spinothalamic tract (see Figure 1-2) concerned with pain and temperature sensations and the ventral spinothalamic tract (see Figure 1-3) concerned with pressure and simple touch.
Fibers forming the ventral spinothalamic tract ascend in the ventral white column to terminate in the VPLc of the thalamus.
Phylogenetically, it is the oldest part of the cerebellum, and fibers from the superior and lateral vestibular nuclei (vestivulocerebellar tract) are ipsilateral and enter the cerebellum through the inferior peduncle (restiform body).
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