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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • List the components of the basic processing stream for the motor system
  • Describe the pathway of descending motor commands from the cortex to the skeletal muscles
  • Compare different descending pathways, both by structure and function
  • Explain the initiation of movement from the neurological connections
  • Describe several reflex arcs and their functional roles

The defining characteristic of the somatic nervous system is that it controls skeletal muscles. Somatic senses inform the nervous system about the external environment, but the response to that is through voluntary muscle movement. The term “voluntary” suggests that there is a conscious decision to make a movement. However, some aspects of the somatic system use voluntary muscles without conscious control. One example is the ability of our breathing to switch to unconscious control while we are focused on another task. However, the muscles that are responsible for the basic process of breathing are also utilized for speech, which is entirely voluntary.

Cortical responses

Let’s start with sensory stimuli that have been registered through receptor cells and the information relayed to the CNS along ascending pathways. In the cerebral cortex, the initial processing of sensory perception progresses to associative processing and then integration in multimodal areas of cortex. These levels of processing can lead to the incorporation of sensory perceptions into memory, but more importantly, they lead to a response. The completion of cortical processing through the primary, associative, and integrative sensory areas initiates a similar progression of motor processing, usually in different cortical areas.

Whereas the sensory cortical areas are located in the occipital, temporal, and parietal lobes, motor functions are largely controlled by the frontal lobe. The most anterior regions of the frontal lobe—the prefrontal areas—are important for executive functions    , which are those cognitive functions that lead to goal-directed behaviors. These higher cognitive processes include working memory    , which has been called a “mental scratch pad,” that can help organize and represent information that is not in the immediate environment. The prefrontal lobe is responsible for aspects of attention, such as inhibiting distracting thoughts and actions so that a person can focus on a goal and direct behavior toward achieving that goal.

The functions of the prefrontal cortex are integral to the personality of an individual, because it is largely responsible for what a person intends to do and how they accomplish those plans. A famous case of damage to the prefrontal cortex is that of Phineas Gage, dating back to 1848. He was a railroad worker who had a metal spike impale his prefrontal cortex ( [link] ). He survived the accident, but according to second-hand accounts, his personality changed drastically. Friends described him as no longer acting like himself. Whereas he was a hardworking, amiable man before the accident, he turned into an irritable, temperamental, and lazy man after the accident. Many of the accounts of his change may have been inflated in the retelling, and some behavior was likely attributable to alcohol used as a pain medication. However, the accounts suggest that some aspects of his personality did change. Also, there is new evidence that though his life changed dramatically, he was able to become a functioning stagecoach driver, suggesting that the brain has the ability to recover even from major trauma such as this.

Questions & Answers

What is Sodium Potassium Pump?
Mwamba Reply
The process of moving sodium and potassium ions across the cell membrance is an active transport process involving the hydrolysis of ATP to provide the necessary energy. It involves an enzyme referred to as Na+/K+-ATPase
USAMA
yes men.
Carlos
does it mean that there are two definitions of gross anatomy
Esther Reply
what is anatomy?
Hridy Reply
I think it's the study of the internal and external features of the body and its physical relationship between body parts
Esther
anatomy is the study of all the structure of body parts of living organisms
Kishan
jaundice causes by when bilirubin blockage of bilary system
mahamed Reply
Yeah, when there is a blockage in the bilary system( bile ducts) which lead to obstruction of the bile pigments called bilirubin leading to a characteristically yellowish appearance of the eyes.
ibrahim
yes
mahamed
there are three main resons why bilirubin levels in the blood may rise: 1. pre-hepatic jaundice,2. hepatic jaundice, 3. post hepatic
mahamed
hi pls what causes jaundice
Umar Reply
where the love feelings emotions and hate lies in the body?
Loving Reply
what is Regional anatomy
Sharon Reply
Please information on dialysis
Agbo Reply
what is the relationship between Clinical officer general, unqualified professionals and traditional healers?
Purity Reply
is that how the microscopic anatomy is
Elizabeth Reply
to understand the structures of the body. to understand how the structures of the body work . To understand how the structures of the body work and support the functions of life.
Dora Reply
procedures that removes waste from body when kidneys dont function properly..
maribel Reply
Want to join
Ordeal
dialysis
kimunya
dialysis is a process to remove extra fluid , impurities and waste product from the blood and to correct electrolytes imbalance such as sodium, potassium and calcium with the help of dialysis machine. when the kidneys can't do their job.
Kishan
what will lead a person to dialysis
Agbo
what's metabolic acidosis
Nana
A condition in which too much acid accumulates in the body. Causes of metabolic acidosis can include buildup of body toxins, kidney failure, and ingestion of certain drugs or toxins, such as methanol or large doses of aspirin. It can be a rare complication of diabetes.
Loving
What is dialisis
Friday Reply
When kidney is not functioning properly than with the help of dialysis blood filtration is occur Or we can say that it is a process through which filtration of blood is done
sonugora
dialysis is a process of removing wastes, excess fluid ,impurities from the blood and to correct electrolytes imbalance such as sodium, potassium and calcium etc with the help of dialysis machine.when the kidney can't do their job.
Kishan
describe anatomical position
Getrude Reply
The erect position of the body with the face directed forward, the arms at the side, and the palms of the hands facing forward, used as a reference in describing the relation of body parts to one another
Jean
Somebody to explain for me the duties of specialist obstetrician
Irene
Definition of an anatomy
Oppong Reply
hy oppong wat course do u offer
Desmond
b pharmacy all subject complete notes
Sayed
the study of the body's structures scientifically
Dora

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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