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Central Connections Of Trigeminal Primary Afferent Neurons: Topographical And Functional Considerations

Norman F. Capra, Dean Dessem

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This article reviews literature relating to the central projection of primary afferent neurons of the trigeminal nerve. After a brief description of the major nuclei associated with the trigeminal nerve, the presentation reviews several early issues related to theories of trigeminal organization including modality and somatotopic representation. Recent studies directed toward further definition of central projection patterns of single nerve branches or nerves supplying specific oral and facial tissues are considered together with data from intraaxonal and intracellular studies that define the projection patterns of single fibers. A presentation of recent immunocytochemical data related to primary afferent fibers is described. Finally, several insights that recent studies shed on early theories of trigeminal input are assessed.