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Somatic nervous system
1. (Brain) Precentral gyrus: the origin of nerve signals initiating movement.

2. (Cross section of Spinal cord) Corticospinal tract: Mediator of message from brain to skeletal muscles.

3. Axon: the efferent nerve fiber that carries the command to contract muscles.

4. Neuromuscular junction: muscle cells are stimulated to contract at this intersection
Part ofPeripheral nervous system
Anatomical terminology

The somatic nervous system (SNS) is made up of nerves that link the brain and spinal cord to voluntary or skeletal muscles that are under conscious control as well as to skin sensory receptors. Specialized nerve fiber ends called sensory receptors are responsible for detecting information within and outside of the body.

The somatic nervous system, or voluntary nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of body movements via skeletal muscles.[1][2] The movements of our arms, legs, and other body parts are among the functions that the somatic nervous system is in charge of and that we can consciously control. The somatic nervous system consists of nerves carrying afferent nerve fibers, which relay sensation from the body to the central nervous system (CNS), and nerves carrying efferent nerve fibers, which relay motor commands from the CNS to stimulate muscle contraction.[3]

The a- of afferent and the e- of efferent correspond to the prefixes ad- (to, toward) and ex- (out of).


There are 43 segments of nerves in the human body.[4] With each segment, there is a pair of sensory and motor nerves. In the body, 31 segments of nerves are in the spinal cord and 12 are in the brain stem.[4] Besides these, thousands of association nerves are also present in the body.[citation needed]

Thus the somatic nervous system consists of two parts:


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The somatic nervous system's principal goal is to facilitate the organs and striated muscles of the central nervous system so that we can carry out our daily responsibilities.

The primary motor cortex, or precentral gyrus, is home to the higher motor neurons that make up the basic motor pathway. These neurons transmit signals to the lower motor neurons in the spinal cord through axons known as the corticospinal tract. These impulses move to the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of skeletal muscle via peripheral axons after synapsing with the lower motor neurons through the ventral horn of the spinal cord. A signal that travels to the NMJ, which innervates muscles, is produced by the release of acetylcholine by upper motor neurons. Acetylcholine binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of alpha-motor neurons.[3]

The somatic nervous system controls all voluntary muscular systems within the body, and the process of voluntary reflex arcs.[9]

The basic route of nerve signals within the efferent somatic nervous system involves a sequence that begins in the upper cell bodies of motor neurons (upper motor neurons) within the precentral gyrus (which approximates the primary motor cortex). Stimuli from the precentral gyrus are transmitted from upper motor neurons, down the corticospinal tract, to lower motor neurons (alpha motor neurons) in the brainstem and ventral horn of the spinal cord: upper motor neurons release a neurotransmitter called glutamate from their axon terminal knobs, which is received by glutamate receptors on the lower motor neurons: from there, acetylcholine is released from the axon terminal knobs of alpha motor neurons and received by postsynaptic receptors (nicotinic acetylcholine receptors) of muscles, thereby relaying the stimulus to contract muscle fibers.

Reflex arcs

A reflex arc is a neural circuit that creates a more or less automatic link between a sensory input and a specific motor output. Reflex circuits vary in complexity—the simplest spinal reflexes are mediated by a two-element chain, of which in the human body there is only one, also called a monosynaptic reflex (there is only one synapse between the two neurones taking part in the arc: sensory and motor). The singular example of a monosynaptic reflex is the patellar reflex. The next simplest reflex arc is a three-element chain, beginning with sensory neurons, which activate interneurons inside of the spinal cord, which then activate motor neurons. Some reflex responses, such as withdrawing the hand after touching a hot surface, are protective, but others, such as the patellar reflex ("knee jerk") activated by tapping the patellar tendon, contribute to ordinary behavior.

Clinical Significance

A medical condition known as peripheral neuropathy affects the somatic nervous system's peripheral nerve fibers. They can be divided into congenital and acquired disorders based on the causes. They can also be categorized based on whether the myelin sheath(demyelinating neuropathy) or axons (axonal neuropathy) have the predominant disease. There is a wide range of causes for axonal peripheral neuropathy, most of which are toxic-metabolic in origin and include group B vitamin deficiencies and diabetes. Demyelinating neuropathies do not vary with length. They are frequently immune-mediated, which causes a more widespread involvement of sensorimotor function and an early loss of deep tendon reflexes. When joint position and vibratory sensory loss are present, sensory participation is more selective.

Defects in the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, or muscle itself are the cause of numerous congenital illnesses of sensory and motor function. Owing to the vast territory encompassed by the somatic nerve system, these ailments may manifest as localized in nature, or as broad and systemic. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome are a few instances of them.[10]

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT)

The Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease group comprises diverse hereditary illnesses that manifest as chronic, progressive neuropathy that affects both the motor and sensory neurons.[11]

Myasthenia Gravis (MG)

An autoimmune neurological condition called myasthenia gravis (MG) is typified by impaired neuromuscular junction communication.[12]

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)

A rare but dangerous post-infectious immune-mediated neuropathy is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). It is brought on by an autoimmune reaction that destroys peripheral nervous system nerves, leading to symptoms including tingling, weakness, and numbness that can become paralysis.[13]

Signs of Somatic Nervous System Problems

Depending on whether the damage is to the motor nerves, which regulate movement, or the sensory nerves, which affect the senses, the symptoms of a somatic nervous system problem can differ.[14]

Damage to the motor nerves shows as:

The following signs could be present if the sensory system is damaged:

Other animals

In invertebrates, depending on the neurotransmitter released and the type of receptor it binds, the response in the muscle fiber could either be excitatory or inhibitory. For vertebrates, however, the response of a skeletal striated muscle fiber to a neurotransmitter – always acetylcholine (ACh) – can only be excitatory.

See also


  1. ^ "Somatic nervous system". 2018-10-09. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  2. ^ How does the nervous system work?. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 2016-08-19.
  3. ^ a b Akinrodoye MA, Lui F (2022). "Neuroanatomy, Somatic Nervous System". StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. PMID 32310487. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Rea P (2014-01-01). "Introduction to the Nervous System". Clinical Anatomy of the Cranial Nerves. Academic Press. pp. xv–xxix. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-800898-0.00019-1. ISBN 978-0-12-800898-0.
  5. ^ a b Felten DL, O'Banion MK, Maida MS (January 2016), "9 - Peripheral Nervous System", in Felten DL, O'Banion MK, Maida MS (eds.), Netter's Atlas of Neuroscience (Third ed.), Philadelphia: Elsevier, pp. 153–231, doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-26511-9.00009-6, ISBN 978-0-323-26511-9
  6. ^ Kaiser JT, Lugo-Pic JG (2024). "Neuroanatomy, Spinal Nerves". StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 31194375. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  7. ^ Sonne J, Lopez-Ojeda W (2024). "Neuroanatomy, Cranial Nerve". StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 29261885. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  8. ^ Traylor KS, Branstetter BF (August 2022). "Cranial Nerve Anatomy". Neuroimaging Clinics of North America. Neuroimaging Anatomy, Part 1: Brain and Skull. 32 (3): 565–576. doi:10.1016/j.nic.2022.04.004. PMID 35843663. S2CID 250568029.
  9. ^ Betts JG, Desaix P, Johnson E, Johnson JE, Korol O, Kruse D, et al. (July 16, 2023). Anatomy & Physiology. Houston: OpenStax CNX. Introduction:The somatic nervous system. ISBN 978-1-947172-04-3.
  10. ^ Waxenbaum JA, Reddy V, Varacallo M (2024). "Anatomy, Autonomic Nervous System". StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 30969667. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  11. ^ Szigeti K, Lupski JR (June 2009). "Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease". European Journal of Human Genetics. 17 (6): 703–710. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.31. PMC 2947101. PMID 19277060.
  12. ^ Dresser L, Wlodarski R, Rezania K, Soliven B (May 2021). "Myasthenia Gravis: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology and Clinical Manifestations". Journal of Clinical Medicine. 10 (11): 2235. doi:10.3390/jcm10112235. PMC 8196750. PMID 34064035.
  13. ^ Nguyen TP, Taylor RS (2024). "Guillain-Barre Syndrome". StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 30335287. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  14. ^ "Somatic Nervous System: What It Is & Function". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 2024-01-26.