Complexity of Primary Afferent Effects

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Human physiology texts describe some of the common connections between primary afferents and motoneurons, serving the stretch reflex, the flexor withdrawal reflex, the inverse myotatic reflex, and so forth. What is not usually addressed is that these are simple paths surrounded by extremely complex additional projections of those afferents to other motoneurons and interneurons of the spinal cord (Baldissera, Hultborn, & Illert, 1981), and powerful modulating inputs onto those paths from spinal interneuronal pools (Jankowska, 1992; Pierrot-Deseilligny, Morin, Bergego, & Tankov, 1981; Brooke et al., 1997). It is clear that specific somatosensory receptor discharge can have widespread effects over neuronal pools of the spinal cord and brain and that the strength of the effect can be modulated from profound to minimal (Brooke et al., 1997).

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