Point 2












Full Pathway DiagramStick Pathway DiagramHopefully you remember from the spinal cord module that the cells of origin of pain and temperature conveying axons in the spinal cord lie in the dorsal horn. Axons arising from these dorsal horn cells cross and ascend in the anterolateral portion of the white matter of the spinal cord (hence the name Anterolateral System; ALS). Thus the cells of origin of the ALS (or spinothalamic system) lie in the contralateral dorsal horn. Axons in the ALS are destined for the ventral posterolateral (VPL) nucleus of the thalamus. Since the thalamus lies ROSTRAL to the midbrain (the most rostral part of the brain stem), the ALS is present in each of the 10 brain stem slides that you need to learn.

ReceptorsOnce the pain and temperature information traveling in the ALS reaches the VPL nucleus of the thalamus (the GREAT GATEWAY to the cortex), it is relayed by a thalamic neuron to the somatosensory cortex (postcentral gyrus; areas 3, 1 and 2). Don't forget: pain and temperature information reaches cells in the dorsal horn via the central processes of dorsal root ganglion cells (neuron #1). Dorsal horn cells (neuron #2) project to the contralateral VPL via the ALS. Finally, cells in VPL (neuron #3) project to areas 3, 1 and 2 (somatosensory cortex) for perception of the pain and temperature.