I'm looking for the "earliest" specific site where the 3 following nerves' sensory signals "converge":

  • Trigeminal nerve
  • Median nerve
  • Superficial peroneal nerve

By "earliest", I really mean the first location in the sensory pathway (to the brain) at which these 3 nerves' sensory signals converge. And by "converge", I mean "feed into each other". My understanding is that, with sensory nerves, all tactile reception roads lead to the somatosensory cortex, and so, I would imagine all the nerve signals converge/merge into one another at some point.

I would imagine the location I'm looking for is the brainstem, probably the pons, but I'm not a biologist and am looking for either correction or confirmation here. This uneducated guesstimate comes from two sources:

  1. Wikipedia - which states that the cranial nerves feed into the pons; and
  2. The fact that the median and peroneal nerves are spinal nerves, which ultimately feed into the medula, which then turns into the pons.

Am I right or way off track?

Please note: this is not homework!

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    $\begingroup$ Not all roads lead to the somatosensory cortex. E.g., visual input is funneled to the visual cortex. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Dec 18 '14 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean where the signals from these nerves integrate? Because the "nerves" can anatomically terminate without converging; the first is a cranial nerve whereas the others are spinal nerves. Moreover a "nerve" has both sensory and motor fibres. This question is a little broad. $\endgroup$
    Dec 18 '14 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @WYSIWYG (+1) - yes, I do mean nerve signals and have updated my question to reflect that. Thanks again! $\endgroup$
    – smeeb
    Dec 18 '14 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @smeeb You really don't have to disclaim all of your questions with "This is not homework!" That close reason is mainly to prevent questions with no research effort that are just copy-pastes from assignments (i.e. "List the organelles found in human mast cells.") Your questions are good and show research effort, so even if they were homework, they would still probably not be closed. $\endgroup$
    – Luigi
    Dec 18 '14 at 15:33

By reasoning, we can make the following distinction:

  • the trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve.
  • the 2 others are peripheral nerves.

Cranial nerves take their origin into their respective nuclei, and bypass the dorsal columns (main spinal tract for sensory information). Peripheral sensory nerves stem from the spinal roots, and from there go up through the dorsal columns. This would bring you to the thalamus, where all sensory information is regrouped. However, somatosensory information from the face and the rest of the body happen to travel through different thalamic nuclei (ventroposterolateral for the body, ventroposteromedian for the face, If my neuroanatomy is not too far behind me...). This leaves us with the internal capsula (fibers that link the thalamus to the cortex), but I do not think much signal integration occurs there.

In conclusion, the first anatomical level of convergence between the 3 above-cited nerves would indeed be the somatosensory cortex.


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