Sensory-Somatic Nervous System

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Illustration shows the underside of the brain. The twelve cranial nerves cluster around the brain stem, and are symmetrically located on each side. The olfactory nerve is short and lobe-like, and is located closest to the front. Directly behind this is the optic nerve, then the oculomotor nerve. All these nerves are located in front of the brain stem. The trigeminal nerve, which is the thickest, is located on either side of the brain stem. It forms three branches shortly after leaving the brain. The trochlear nerve is a small nerve in front of the trigeminal nerve. Behind the brain stem are the smaller facial, vestibulocochlear, glossopharyngeal and hypoglossal nerves. The nerve furthest back is the accessory nerve.
The human brain contains 12 cranial nerves that receive sensory input and control motor output for the head and neck. Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

OpenStax Biology 2e

The sensory-somatic nervous system is made up of cranial and spinal nerves and contains both sensory and motor neurons. Sensory neurons transmit sensory information from the skin, skeletal muscle, and sensory organs to the CNS. Motor neurons transmit messages about desired movement from the CNS to the muscles to make them contract. Without its sensory-somatic nervous system, an animal would be unable to process any information about its environment (what it sees, feels, hears, and so on) and could not control motor movements. Unlike the autonomic nervous system, which has two synapses between the CNS and the target organ, sensory and motor neurons have only one synapse—one ending of the neuron is at the organ and the other directly contacts a CNS neuron. Acetylcholine is the main neurotransmitter released at these synapses.

Humans have 12 cranial nerves, nerves that emerge from or enter the skull (cranium), as opposed to the spinal nerves, which emerge from the vertebral column. Some cranial nerves transmit only sensory information. For example, the olfactory nerve transmits information about smells from the nose to the brainstem. Other cranial nerves transmit almost solely motor information. For example, the oculomotor nerve controls the opening and closing of the eyelid and some eye movements. Other cranial nerves contain a mix of sensory and motor fibers. For example, the glossopharyngeal nerve has a role in both taste (sensory) and swallowing (motor).

Spinal nerves transmit sensory and motor information between the spinal cord and the rest of the body. Each of the 31 spinal nerves (in humans) contains both sensory and motor axons. The sensory neuron cell bodies are grouped in structures called dorsal root ganglia. Each sensory neuron has one projection—with a sensory receptor ending in skin, muscle, or sensory organs—and another that synapses with a neuron in the dorsal spinal cord. Motor neurons have cell bodies in the ventral gray matter of the spinal cord that project to muscle through the ventral root. These neurons are usually stimulated by interneurons within the spinal cord but are sometimes directly stimulated by sensory neurons.

Illustration shows a cross section of the spinal cord. The gray matter forms an X inside the white matter. A spinal nerve extends from the left arm of the X, and another extends from the left leg of the X. The two nerves join together to the left of the spine. The right arm and leg of the X form a symmetrical nerve. The part of the nerve that exits from the leg of the X is called the ventral root, and the part that exists from the arm of the X is called the dorsal root. The ventral root is on the belly side, and the dorsal root is on the back side. The dorsal root ganglion is a bulge halfway between where the nerve leaves the spine and where the dorsal and ventral roots join. Sensory neuron somas cluster in the dorsal root. Motor neuron somas cluster in the gray matter in the leg of the X. Motor neuron axons are bundled in the ventral root.
Spinal nerves contain both sensory and motor axons. The somas of sensory neurons are located in dorsal root ganglia. The somas of motor neurons are found in the ventral portion of the gray matter of the spinal cord. Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

Source:

Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e

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