Organization of the Spinal Cord

  • Marion Murray

The Spinal Cord

Sensory information from the body is transmitted into the central nervous system (CNS) through the dorsal root projections into the spinal cord. Motor neurons in the spinal cord project their axons into the periphery to innervate muscles and autonomic ganglia. Somatic perceptions, coordinated movements, and autonomic functions depend on the integrity of the spinal cord and its projections. The neurons and fiber bundles within the spinal cord are organized in a simpler and more uniform way than other parts of the CNS.

Segmental Organization of the Spinal Cord

During early embryonic life, the spinal cord extends almost the whole length of the vertebral canal. As development proceeds, the body and the vertebral column grow at a much greater rate than does the spinal cord. As a result, in newborns the spinal cord extends only as far caudally as the midlumbar vertebral levels and in adults (Fig. 1) only to the level of the first or second lumbar vertebrae. Dorsal and...


Motor Neuron Dorsal Root Dorsal Horn Central Pattern Generator Ventral Horn 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Selected Readings

  1. Barbeau H, Fung J. The role of rehabilitation in the recovery of walking in the neurological population. Curr Opin Neurol 2001; 14:735–740.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Grillner S, Zangger P. On the central generation of locomotion in the low spinal cat. Exp Br Res 1979; 34:241–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Jankowska E. Spinal interneuronal systems. J Physiol 2001; 533:31–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Maynard FM, Brachen MB, Creasey G, Ditunno J, et al. Internal standards for neurological and functional classification of spinal injury. Spinal Cord 1997; 35:266–274.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Peirrot-Deseilligny E, Burke, D. The Circuitry of the Human Spinal Cord: Its Role in Motor Control and Movement Disorders. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Rexed B. A cytoarchitectonic atlas on the spinal cord and the cat. J Comp Neurol 1954; 100:297–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Sherrington CS. The Integrative Action of the Nervous System. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1906.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press, Totowa, NJ 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marion Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology and AnatomyDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations