Overview of the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord runs follow me the inside of the vertebral column and serves together the signaling conduit between the mind and the periphery.

You are watching: The outward projections from the central gray matter of the spinal cord are called

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe spinal cord extends indigenous the occipital bone the the skull until it terminates close to the second lumbar vertebra.The spinal cord is protected by 3 layers the meninges: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and also the pia mater.The main nervous device (CNS) is comprised of the mind and spinal cord. The area in between the arachnoid an are and the pia mater has cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).The spinal cord is split into 31 segments that send nerve rootlets out right into the body through intervertebral foramen.Each segment the the spinal cord is linked with a pair the ganglia dubbed dorsal source ganglia, i m sorry are positioned just external of the spinal cord and contain cell bodies the sensory neurons. These neurons travel right into the spinal cord via the dorsal roots.Ventral root consist that axons from engine neurons, which bring information come the perimeter from cell bodies within the CNS. Dorsal roots and also ventral root come together and exit the intervertebral foramina together they come to be spinal nerves.Key Termsperipheral nervous system: The part of the nervous device that consists of the nerves and ganglia on the outside of the mind and spinal cord.efferent: The conduction the impulses outside from the mind or spinal cord.afferent: The conduction of impulses inwards to the mind or spinal cord.cauda equina: A bundle the nerve root at the base of the spinal column.spinal cord: A thick, whitish cord the nerve organization which is a significant part of the vertebrate central nervous system. The extends from the brain stem down through the spine, v nerves branching turn off to various parts that the body.


A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is an instance of a medical procedure that directly targets the spinal cord.The bear defect spina bifida is a fail of the vertebral arch to close, exposing the spinal cord.

The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of concerned tissue and also support cells the extends from the medulla oblongata of the mind to the level of the lumbar region. The brain and spinal cord together consist of the main nervous device (CNS). The spinal cord, safeguarded by the vertebral column, starts at the occipital bone and extends under to the space between the very first and 2nd lumbar vertebrae. The spinal cord has actually a differing width, varying from 0.5 inch thick in the cervical and also lumbar regions to 0.25 customs thick in the thoracic area. The size of the spinal cord is about 45 cm (18 in) in males and about 43 centimeter (17 in) lengthy in women.

Spinal Cord and Vertebrae.png: Relationship in between the spinal cord and vertebral column, delineating the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar sections.

Layers and also Regions the the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is protected by three layers that tissue called meninges and divided into three regions.

Spinal Cord organization Layers

The dura mater is the outermost layer of spinal cord tissue, developing a difficult protective coating. The an are between the dura mater and also the neighboring bone the the vertebrae is called the epidural space. The epidural room is filled through adipose tissue and also contains a network the blood vessels. The center layer is dubbed the arachnoid mater. The pia mater is the innermost protective layer and is tightly linked with the surface ar of the spinal cord. The space between the arachnoid and pia maters is called the subarachnoid space and is where the CSF is located. It is from this ar at the level that the lumbar region that CSF fluid is acquired in a spinal tap.

Spinal Cord Regions

In cross-section, the peripheral an ar of the cord displays neuronal white matter tracts containing sensory and also motor neurons. Interior to this peripheral an ar is the gray, butterfly-shaped main region consisted of of nerve cell bodies. This main region surrounds the central canal, i m sorry is an anatomic extension of the spaces in the brain known as the ventricles and also like the ventricles, contains cerebrospinal fluid.

Spinal Cord Regions: Cross-sectional view of the spinal cord regions

The spinal cord is divided into cervical, thoracic, and also lumbar regions. The cervical region is separated into eight levels that are related to different motor and sensory attributes in the neck and the arms. The spinal nerves of the thoracic an ar supply the thorax and abdomen. The nerves of the lumbosacral spinal cord it is provided the pelvic region, legs, and feet.

Spinal Cord Nerve Branches

Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves (sensory and motor) branch indigenous the person spinal cord. Each spinal nerve is created from the combination of nerve fibers from that posterior and anterior roots. The posterior root is the sensory (afferent) root the carries sensory information to the brain from other locations of the body. The anterior root is the engine (efferent) root the carries motor info to the human body from the brain.

The spinal nerve increase from the spinal obelisk through the opened (intervertebral foramen) between adjacent vertebrae. An exception is the first spinal nerve pair (C1), i m sorry emerges between the occipital bone and also the atlas (the first vertebra). The swelling discovered in the posterior root is the posterior (dorsal) root ganglion, which consists of the cabinet bodies the sensory neurons. The anterior (ventral) root contains axons of engine neurons the conduct nerve impulses native the CNS to other parts of the body such together the muscles.

The cauda equina (“horse’s tail”) is the surname for the arsenal of nerves in the vertebral tower that extends beyond the cord. The nerves that compose the cauda equina it is provided the pelvic organs and also lower limbs, including motor innervation for the hips, knees, ankles, feet, and also internal and also external anal sphincters. In addition, the cauda equina extends come sensory innervation that the perineum.

Primary Spinal Cord Function

The spinal cord attributes primarily in the transmission of neural signals between the brain and the rest of the body, however it also contains neural circuits that deserve to independently control numerous reflexes and central pattern generators. The three major functions the the spinal cord space the conduction of motor details traveling under the spinal cord, the conduction that sensory details in the reverse direction, and also acting as the center for conducting certain reflexes. The spinal cord is the main pathway for information connecting the mind and peripheral nervous system.

The Spine

The spine encases the spinal cord because that protection and also support.

Learning Objectives

Describe the vertebral column, the protective framework of the spinal cord

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe human spine consists of 24 articulating vertebrae grouped right into cervical, thoracic, and also lumbar regions. Nine much more vertebrae make up the sacrum and also coccyx.Typical vertebrae covers the anterior vertebral body and also the posterior section, which has the vertebral foramen v which the spinal cord passes.There are 4 main curve of the spine: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic.Facets that the vertebrae restrict variety of movement to avoid shearing the the spinal cord.Blood vessels and nerves departure the spinal pillar at intervertebral foramina.There are four main curve of the spine: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and pelvic.Key Termsvertebrae: The bones that comprise the spinal column.laminae: bowl of bone that type the posterior wall surfaces of every vertebra.pedicle: A segment the bone connecting the lamina come the vertebral body.vertebral foramen: created by the vertebral body and vertebral arch and also containing the spinal cord.vertebral column: The collection of vertebrae that protect the spinal cord; the spinal column.


Kyphosis is an exaggerated concave (kyphotic) curvature the the thoracic vertebral column; it is commonly known as “humpback.”Lordosis is an exaggerated convex (lordotic) curvature of the lumbar region; the is generally known together “swayback.”Scoliosis is one abnormal lateral curvature that the vertebral column.

Number of Vertebrae


In human anatomy, the vertebral obelisk (backbone or spine) usually is composed of 24 articulating vertebrae and nine fused vertebrae in the sacrum and also the coccyx. Situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso and also separated through intervertebral discs, the houses and also protects the spinal cord in that spinal canal. There are typically 33 vertebrae in humans, including the 5 that space fused to form the sacrum, the four coccygeal skeleton that type the tailbone, and the others separated through intervertebral discs. The upper 3 regions make up the staying 24, and are grouped together cervical (seven vertebrae), thoracic (12 vertebrae) and lumbar (five vertebrae).

Vertebral Shape

A usual vertebra is composed of the vertebral body and also vertebral arch. These parts together enclose the vertebral foramen that includes the spinal cord. The vertebral arch is developed by a pair of pedicles and a pair of laminae. 2 transverse processes and also one spinous procedure are posterior to (behind) the vertebral body. The spinous procedure projects toward the posterior direction, while one transverse procedure projects come the left and the other to the right. The spinous procedures of the cervical and also lumbar regions deserve to be felt with the skin. Facet joints room located over and below each vertebra. These restrict the selection of movement. Between each pair that vertebrae space two small openings called intervertebral foramina with which the spinal nerves exit.


Vertebrae: Oblique see of cervical vertebrae.

Vertebral Curvature

When regarded laterally, the vertebral obelisk presents several curves equivalent to the various regions of the column: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic.

Cervical and Thoracic Curves

The cervical curve convexes forward and also begins at the apex the the odontoid (tooth-like) process. It ends at the center of the second thoracic vertebra. The thoracic curve convexes dorsally, begins at the center of the 2nd thoracic vertebra, and also ends in ~ the center of the 12th thoracic vertebra.

Lumbar and Pelvic Curves

The lumbar curve, which is more pronounced in women than in men, starts at the middle of the critical thoracic vertebra and also ends at the sacrovertebral angle. That is convex anteriorly through the reduced three vertebrae much much more convex 보다 the top two. This curve is defined as a lordotic curve. The pelvic curve starts at the sacrovertebral articulation and ends at the allude of the coccyx; its concavity is command downward and also forward.

Primary and secondary Curves

The thoracic and also sacral curvatures room termed main curves since they are current in the fetus and also remain the same in the adult. As the son grows, lifts the head, and begins to assume an upright position, the an additional curves (cervical and lumbar) develop. The cervical curve develops when the infant is may be to organize up his or her head (at three or 4 months) and also sit upright (at ripe months). The lumbar curve forms in between twelve come eighteen months as soon as the child starts to walk.

Spinal Cord Grey Matter and Spinal Roots

The grey issue of the spinal cord contains neuronal cell bodies, dendrites, axons, and also nerve synapses.

Learning Objectives

Describe the grey matter and also spinal root of the spinal cord

Key Takeaways

Key PointsEach segment that the spinal cord is associated with a pair of ganglia called dorsal source ganglia, located just external of the spinal cord.The dorsal source ganglia save the cell bodies of sensory neurons. Axons of these sensory neurons travel into the spinal cord via the dorsal roots.The grey issue in the center of the cord consists of interneurons and the cabinet bodies of engine neurons, axons, and dendrites.Projections of the grey matter (the “wings”) are referred to as horns. Together, the grey horns and also the grey commissure kind the H-shaped grey matter.The dorsal source ganglia creates in the embryo from neural crest cells. The spinal ganglia can thus be regarded as grey issue of the spinal cord that was translocated come the periphery.Key Termsneural crest: A piece of ectodermal material in the beforehand vertebrate embryo inserted in between the prospective neural plate and the epidermis.grey matter: A significant component of the main nervous device consisting that neuronal cell bodies, neuropil (dendrites and also unmyelinated axons), glial cells (astroglia and also oligodendrocytes), and also capillaries.neural tube: The embryonic precursor come the central nervous mechanism (CNS).


The spine acts together the conduit come relay info to and from the mind from the rest of the body.Damage come the grey issue (eg, the ventral gray horn) may result in tingling and also muscle weakness.

The spinal cord is the key pathway for info connecting the mind and peripheral nervous system. The spinal cord is much shorter in length than the bony spinal column. The person spinal cord extends indigenous the foramen magnum that the occipital bone that the skull and continues to the conus medullaris near the second lumbar vertebra, end in a fibrous extension known as the filum terminale.

Spinal Cord Topography and also Roots

The spinal cord is compressed dorsoventrally, giving it an elliptical shape. The cord has grooves in the dorsal and ventral sides. The posterior typical sulcus is the groove in the dorsal side, and the anterior typical fissure is the groove in the ventral side.

Each segment that the spinal cord is connected with a pair that ganglia referred to as dorsal root ganglia, positioned just outside of the spinal cord. These ganglia contain cabinet bodies the sensory neurons. Axons of these sensory neurons travel right into the spinal cord via the dorsal roots.

The grey matter, in the facility of the cord, is shaped favor a butterfly and also consists of cell bodies the interneurons and motor neurons, as well as neuroglia cells and unmyelinated axons. Projections of the grey matter (the “wings”) are called horns. Together, the grey horns and the grey commissure kind the H-shaped grey matter.

Dorsal and also Ventral Roots

The dorsal root ganglia lie follow me the vertebral obelisk by the spine. The dorsal root ganglia establishes in the embryo from neural crest cells, no the neural tube. Hence, the spinal ganglia can be concerned as grey issue of the spinal cord that became translocated come the periphery.

The axons of dorsal root ganglion neurons are known as afferents. In the peripheral worried system, afferents refer to the axons that relay sensory info into the central nervous system. These neurons are of the pseudo-unipolar type, definition that they have an axon v two branches the act together a single axon, frequently referred to together distal and proximal processes. Ventral roots consist the axons from motor neurons, which lug information to the perimeter from cabinet bodies in ~ the CNS. Dorsal roots and also ventral roots come together and also exit the intervertebral foramina together they come to be spinal nerves.

The nerve endings of dorsal source ganglion neurons have a variety of sensory receptor that room activated through mechanical, thermal, chemical, and also noxious stimuli. In this sensory neurons, a group of ion channels thought to it is in responsible for somatosensory transduction has been identified. Compression of the dorsal root ganglion through a mechanical stimulus lowers the voltage threshold required to evoke a response and causes action potentials to be fired. This shooting may also persist ~ the remove of the stimulus.

Impulse Transmission

The dendrite receives details from one more neuron’s axon at the synapse, and the axon sends information to the next neuron’s dendrites. Uneven the bulk of neurons discovered in the CNS, an action potential in a dorsal root ganglion neuron may initiate in the distal procedure in the periphery, bypass the cell body, and also continue come propagate follow me the proximal process until getting to the synaptic terminal in the dorsal horn that the spinal cord.

The distal section of the axon might either it is in a bare nerve finishing or encapsulated by a structure that help relay certain information to nerve. For example, a Meissner’s corpuscle or a Pacinian corpuscle may encapsulate the nerve ending, rendering the distal procedure sensitive to mechanically stimulation, such together stroking or vibration.

Ion Channels

Two distinct types of mechanosensitive ion networks have been found in the dorsal root ganglia, extensively classified together either high-threshold (HT) or low-threshold (LT). As their name suggest, castle have different thresholds and also different sensitivities come pressure. These room cationic networks whose task appears to be regulated by the proper functioning of the cytoskeleton and also cytoskeleton-associated proteins. The visibility of these channels in the dorsal root ganglion gives reason to think that other sensory neurons may contain them together well.

High-threshold networks have a feasible role in nociception. These channels are found predominantly in smaller sized sensory neurons in the dorsal source ganglion cells and are triggered by greater pressures, two characteristics that space characteristic that nociceptors. Also, the threshold the HT channels was lowered in the visibility of PGE2 (a compound that sensitizes neurons to mechanically stimuli and also mechanical hyperalgesia), which additional supports a role for HT channels in the transduction of mechanically stimuli into nociceptive neuronal signals.

Spinal Cord White Matter

The white issue of the spinal cord is composed of bundles of myelinated axons.

Learning Objectives

Describe the duty and compositon that spinal cord white matter

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhite matter is just one of the two materials of the central nervous system and also consists mostly of glial cells and also myelinated axons.The white matter is white since of the fat substance ( myelin ) the surrounds the nerve fibers. Myelin acts together an electrical insulation. It allows the message to pass conveniently from ar to place.Cerebral and spinal white matter do not contain dendrites, which can only be found in grey matter along with neural cell bodies, and much shorter axons.White issue modulates the circulation of action potentials, acting as a relay and coordinating communication between different mind regions.White matter in the spinal cord functions as the “wiring”; primarily to carry information.Key Termsmyelin: A white, fatty, product composed the lipids and lipoproteins, the surrounds the axons of nerves.white matter: A an ar of the central nervous mechanism containing myelinated nerve fibers and no dendrites.cerebral ventricles: Interconnected caries in the mind where the cerebrospinal fluid is produced.glial cell: A form of cell, in the worried system, that offers support for the neurons.

White matter is one of the two components of the central nervous system. It consists mostly of glial cells and also myelinated axons and forms the mass of the deep components of the brain and the superficial components of the spinal cord. That is the tissue with which messages pass in between different areas of grey matter within the concerned system.

Composition that White Matter

White issue is composed of bundles of myelinated nerve cell procedures (or axons). The axons attach various grey matter locations (the areas of nerve cell bodies) that the mind to each other and also carry nerve impulses in between neurons. The axonal myelin acts as an insulator and increases the speed of transmission of all nerve signals. White matter does not contain dendrites, which room only discovered in grey matter in addition to neural cabinet bodies and shorter axons.

In a freshly cut brain, the organization of white matter appears pinkish white to the naked eye due to the fact that myelin is composed mainly of lipid tissue that includes capillaries. In nonelderly adults, 1.7-3.6% of the white issue is blood. Myelin is uncovered in practically all long nerve fibers and also acts as electrical insulation. This is important due to the fact that it allows the messages to pass quickly from place to place.

Spinal Cord Columns

The spinal cord white issue is subdivided right into columns. The dorsal columns carry sensory information from mechanoreceptors (cells that respond come mechanical press or distortion). The axons the the lateral columns ( corticospinal tracts ) take trip from the cerebral cortex to call spinal motor neurons. The ventral columns lug sensory pain and temperature information and also some engine information.

Function the White Matter

Long believed to be passive tissue, white matter actively affects how the mind learns and also functions. If grey matter is primarily connected with processing and also cognition, white matter modulates the circulation of activity potentials, acting as a relay and also coordinating communication in between different brain regions. The mind in general (and specifically a child’s brain) deserve to adapt to white-matter damages by finding alternate routes the bypass the damaged white-matter areas; therefore, it can maintain an excellent connections in between the various areas of grey matter. Making use of a computer system network as an analogy, the grey matter deserve to be believed of as the actual computers themselves, whereas the white issue represents the network cables connecting the computers together.

Axon Tracts

Within white matter, there room three different kinds of tracts or majority of axons that connect one part of the brain to another and also to the spinal cord:

Projection tracts prolong vertically between higher and lower mind and spinal cord centers. They bring information between the cerebrum and also the rest of the body. The corticospinal tracts, for example, carry motor signal from the cerebrum come the brainstem and also spinal cord.Commissural tracts cross from one cerebral hemisphere to the various other through bridges called commissures. Commissural tracts allow the left and right political parties of the cerebrum to communicate with each other.Association tracts attach different areas within the exact same hemisphere the the brain. Amongst their roles, association tracts attach perceptual and also memory centers of the brain.

White Matter-Grey matter Interactions

White matter forms the bulk of the deep components of the brain and the superficial components of the spinal cord. Aggregates of grey matter, such as the basal ganglia and brain stem nuclei, space spread within the cerebral white matter. The cerebellum is structured in a comparable manner as the cerebrum, through a superficial mantle of cerebellar cortex, deep cerebellar white matter (called the “arbor vitae”), and aggregates the grey matter surrounded by deep cerebellar white matter (dentate nucleus, globose nucleus, emboliform nucleus, and also fastigial nucleus). The fluid-filled cerebral ventricles (lateral ventricles, third ventricle, cerebral aqueduct, and fourth ventricle) are likewise located deep in ~ the cerebral white matter.

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White issue in spinal cord: The spinal cord diagram showing place of the white issue surrounding grey matter.