Afferent pathway

The afferent neural anatomical pathway is well-known. Sensory perception is mediated by afferent sensory fibres beginning with peripheral sensory bodies specifically recording pain, pressure and temperature, such as Meissner's corpuscle, Pacinian corpuscles and free nerve endings. These sensations are relayed along the ascending spinal sensory pathways via myelinated A fibres and unmyelinated C fibres or cranial nerves to the thalamus in the cerebral cortex.

At this stage it is important to mention the vital function of some of these unmyelinated C afferent fibres, which also serve to secrete neuropeptides as an efferent function. These neuropeptides are a diverse group of peptides and amino acids (often fewer than 40 amino acids in length) which act as intercellular messengers either alone or in conjunction with others to effect neuroendocrine and immune actions in response to acute or chronic stimuli (Panconesi & Hautmann, 1996).

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