Processing of splanchnic and somatic input in thoracic spinal cord of the rat

E. W. Akeyson, L. P. Schramm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


To better understand the spinal transmission of visceral afferent information, we conducted neurophysiological studies of single spinal neurons that receive input from the greater splanchnic nerve (GSN). Extracellular single-neuron recordings were made in the thoracic spinal cord of chloralose- anesthetized, paralyzed, and artificially ventilated rats, some of which had undergone acute spinal transection at C1. Neurons were divided into four classes according to their responses to GSN stimulation: one-burst excitatory, two-burst excitatory, biphasic, and inhibited. We then studied the characteristics of the convergent somatic input to each class of neurons using either natural somatic stimuli or electrical stimulation of the iliohypogastric nerve (IHN). Most splanchnic input was mediated by unmyelinated fibers, whereas somatic input was mediated by both unmyelinated and small myelinated fibers. Most of the neurons exhibited somatic receptive fields, and the majority responded to both innocuous and noxious somatic stimuli. However, a small number could be excited only by GSN stimulation. Although a careful analysis of response characteristics indicated that there was a tendency for neurons to exhibit similar responses to electrical stimulation of the GSN and the IHN, we observed many combinations of somatic and visceral responses. We suggest that visceral afferent activity, in addition to being processed via convergent somatovisceral pathways, may be processed by neurons that convey only visceral information or by neurons in which visceral and somatic information is differentially coded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R257-R267
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1 35-1
StatePublished - 1994


  • autonomic nervous system
  • metabolic regulation
  • referred visceral pain
  • splanchnic nerves
  • visceral afferents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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