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Biomedical Reviews

Mastication and sensibility, or the five new findings in the cat mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus

Kamen G. Usunoff, Enrico Marani


The brain even of small animals, like the rat, is complicated in its structure and its function. The hardware of the smartest personal computer is difficult to unravel. Those studying the brain know, that those brain structures that left the common evolutionary path are even harder to study. Such a structure is the mesencephalic nucleus of the trigeminal system, responsible for the sensibility of the jaw-closing muscles and the periodontium. The mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus (MTN) is a drop-like nucleus with an enormous thin tail, extending from the rostral pons along the entire caudo-rostral length of the midbrain. While all sensory ganglia of the spinal and cranial nerves are placed outside the central nervous system, the MTN, that exists of the same primary afferent neurons, is placed in the brainstem. As a consequence, this nucleus receives projections from other brain parts, projects to non-primary afferent target areas, contains a different topography and neurochemistry, in which it distinguishes itself from other primary afferent sensory ganglia of the spinal and cranial nerves. In this volume of Biomedical Reviews, the first neurochemical update on the cat MTN appears. Moreover, it stems from the Department of Anatomy, Thracian University Medical Faculty in Stara Zagora by Nikolai Lazarov and Christo Chouchkov known for their skin receptor studies and their connectivity to and in the MTN. They earned the First Dimitri Kadanoff Memorial Award truly.

Biomedical Reviews 1997; 8: 21-22.

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About The Authors

Kamen G. Usunoff
Medical University of Sofia

Enrico Marani
Leiden University

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