The waterproof sensory sheet covering the mammalian body has a rich
afferent innervation which provides an abundance of complex
information for use by the central nervous system often in
conjunction with information from receptors in the joints. This
book is an attempt to provide a systematic account of the way in
which this somatosensory system works. The properties of the
peripheral receptors have been debated in scientific terms for
about a century and the resolu- tion of the conflict in favour of
the existence of 'specific' receptors for mechanical, thermal and
noxious stimuli is reported and discussed in the opening chapters
of the book. An awareness of this specificity has forced a
re-consideration of the ways in which the central nervous system
de-codes the information which is showered upon it. Advances in
knowledge of the fine structure of the central nervous system have
raised functional questions about the operation and organisation of
the sensory systems in the spinal cord and brain. Fresh insight
into the morphological complexity of the dorsal horn and higher
levels of the nervous system gives the physiologist a clearer idea
of the units with which he works. Progress has been made in
understanding the function of sensory relay nuclei in general and
indivi- dual tracts in particular and is fully decomented.
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