Centrifugal Control of Somatosensory Inflow Into The Spinal Cord

  • Manfred Zimmermann
Part of the Wenner-Gren Center International Symposium Series book series (EMISS, volume 12)


In his thesis work Yngve Zotterman studied sensations in humans elicited during limb ischemia used as a method to differentially block peripheral nerves (Zotterman, 1933). To explain some abnormal sensations he considered the possibility that messages in sensory nerves might be inhibited in the central nervous system, a mechanism that could be concluded at that time from work by Sir Henry Head and Otfrid Foerster. Research in animals has shown that inhibition in the spinal dorsal horn descending from the brain is an important mechanism for the modulation of sensory information (reviews by Fields and Basbaum, 1978; Willis, 1982). Early studies on descending inhibition were initiated by Swedish neurophysiologists (Lindblom and Ottosson, 1953; Hagbarth and Kerr, 1954), two of whom contributed to this symposium.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, P.W., Handwerker, H. O., Zimmermann, M., (1974). Nervous outflow from the cat’s foot during noxious radiant heat stimulation. Brain Res., 373–386Google Scholar
  2. Burgess, P. R., Perl, E. R., (1973). Cutaneous mechanoreceptars and nociceptors. In Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Vol. 2–Somatosenory System. (ed. A. Iggo ). Springer, New York, pp. 29–78Google Scholar
  3. Carstens, E., Klumpp, D., Zimmermann, M. (1979). The opiate antagonist, nalaxone, does not affect descending inhibition from midbrain of nociceptive spinal neuronal discharges in the cat. Neurosci. Lett. 11, 323–327PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carstens, E., Klumpp, D., Zimmermann, M., (1980). Differential inhibitory effects of medial and lateral midbrain stimulation on spinal neuronal discharges to noxious skin heating in the cat. J. Neurophysiol. 43, 332–342PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Carstens, E., Bihl, H., Irvine, D.R.F., Zimmermann, M. (1981a). Descending inhibition from medial and lateral midbrain of spinal dorsal horn neuronal responses to noxious and nonnoxious cutaneous stimuli in the cat. J. Neurophysiol. 45, 1029–1042PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Carstens, E., MacKinnon, J. D., Guinan, M. J., (1982). Serotonin involvement in descending inhibition of spinal nociceptive transmission produced by medial preoptic and septal stimulation. J. Neurophysiol. 48, 981–991PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Fields, H.L., Basbaum, A.I. (1978). Brainstem control of spinal pain-transmission neurons. Ann. Rev. Physiol. 40, 217–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gebhart, G.F., Sandkuehler, J., Thalhammer, J.G., Zimmermann, M. (1983). Inhibition in the spinal cord of nociceptive information by electrical stimulation and morphine microinjection at identical sites in the midbrain of the cat. J. Neurophysiol. (submitted)Google Scholar
  9. Hagbarth, K. E., Kerr, D.I.B., (1954). Central influences on spinal afferent conduction. J. Neurophysiol. 17, 295–307PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Handwerker, H.O., Iggo, A., Zimmermann, M. (1975). Segmental and supraspinal actions on dorsal horn neurons responding to noxious and non-noxious stimuli. Pain 1, 147–165PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Iacono, R. P., Nashold, B.S., (1982). Mental and behavioral effects of brain stem and hypothalamic stimulation in man. Human Neurobiol. 1, 273–279Google Scholar
  12. Lindblom, U. F., Ottosson, J.O. (1953). Effects of spinal sections on the spinal cord potentials elicited by stimulation of low threshold cutaneous fibres. Acta Physiol. Scand. 29, Suppl. 106, 191–208Google Scholar
  13. Mokha, S.S., McMillan, J. A., Iggo, A. (1983). Descending influences on spinal nociceptive neurons from locus coeruleus: actions, pathway, neurotransmitters, and mechanisms. In Advances in Pain research and Therapy, Vol. 5. (eds. J. J. Bonica., U. Lindblom., A. Iggo.,). Raven Press, New York, pp. 387–392Google Scholar
  14. Oliveras, J.L., Besson, J.M., Guilbaud, G., Liebeskind, J. C. (1974). Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence of pain inhibition from midbrain stimulation in the cat. Exp. Brain Res. 20, 32–44PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Satoh, M., Akaike, A., Nakazawa, T., Masuda, C. Takagi, H., (1983). Different roles of the nucleus reticularis paragigantocellularis and nucleus raphemagnus of the rat in the production of analgesia by microinjection of opioids. In Advances in pain Research and Therapy, Vol. 5. (eds. J.J. Bonica, U Lindblom, A. Iggo ). Raven press, New York, pp. 381–386Google Scholar
  16. Willis, W.D. (1982). Control of nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord. In Progress in Sensory Physiology, Vol. 3. (Eds. H. Autrum, D. Ottson, E.R. Perl, R.F. Schmidt ). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, pp. 1–159Google Scholar
  17. Yaksh, T. L., (1981). Spinal opiate analgesia: characteristics and principles of action. Pain 11, 293–346PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Yaksh, T.L., Rudy, R.A., (1978). Narcotic analgetics: CNS sites and mechanisms of action as revealed by intracerebral injection techniques. Pain 4, 299–359PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Zenz, M., (1981) Peridurale Opiat-Analgesie. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Zimmermann, M. (1976). Neurophysiology of nociception. In International review of psysioloqy, Neurop ysiology II, Vol. 10. (ed. R. Porter ). University Park Press Baltimore, pp. 179–221Google Scholar
  21. Zotterman, Y. (1933). Studies in the peripheral nervous mechanism of pain. Acta Med. Scand. 80, 1–64Google Scholar
  22. Zotterman, Y. (1936). Specific action potentials in the lingual nerve of the cat. Scand. Arch. Physiol. 75, 105–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Wenner-Gren Center 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred Zimmermann
    • 1
  1. 1.II Physiologishes InstitutUniversität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations