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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 27, 2009


JAMA. 2009;301(20):2167. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.724

In view of the great importance of so-called general sensation, or common sensation, in clinical work, particularly in the diagnosis of nervous and visceral diseases, it is rather surprising that we have so often been content with a very uncritical analysis of this sensation complex.

Nearly twenty-five years ago Gaskell from the physiologic side and His from the embryologic side established the now classical four-root theory of the composition of the spinal nerves, recognizing in each pair somatic and visceral motor and somatic and visceral sensory components. More recently Sherrington1 has elaborated a very fruitful physiologic analysis, dividing the sense organs (receptors) of the body into: (1) interoceptors, or visceral sense organs of the digestive tract and its derivatives; (2) exteroceptors, or somatic sense organs of the outer body surfaces for impressions coming from the outside world, and (3) proprioceptors, sense organs of the muscles, joints, tendons, etc., adapted to report to the central nervous system the exact state of contraction, tension, etc., which these organs experience during function and thereby assisting in the coordination of all somatic movements.

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