Once in the spinal column, information is divided into two parallel tracts, which head up the spinal column to the brain. It is important to keep these two tracts distinct, as they serve different functions. But the anatomy and terminology are both tricky. So stay with the text and review the text and figures often. One tract is called the dorsal column–medial lemniscal pathway. The dorsal column–medial lemniscal pathway carries information from the mechanoreceptors (i.e., tactile perception) and from the proprioceptors (i.e., muscle position perception). The spinothalamic pathway carries information from the nociceptors (pain) and the thermoreceptors (temperature). The names are a mouthful, but the anatomy is tricky too.
Use this activity to explore and highlight both sets of somatosensory pathways, one set from the left side of the body, the other set from the right side of the body.
To see the illustration in full screen, which is recommended, press the Full Screen button, which appears at the top of the page.
On the Illustration tab, you can trace the pathways of somatosensory system.
Below is a list of the ways that you can alter the illustration. The settings include the following:
Right Dorsal Column–Medial Lemniscal Pathway: check to display this pathway,
shown in a bright green.
Left Dorsal Column–Medial Lemniscal Pathway: check to display this pathway, shown in a bright red.
Right Spinothalamic Pathway: check to display this pathway, shown in a dark green.
Left Spinothalamic Pathway: check to display this pathway, shown in a dark red.
Pressing this button restores the settings to their default values.