Organization of the neural switching circuitry underlying reflex micturition

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The functions of the lower urinary tract to store and periodically eliminate urine are regulated by a complex neural control system in the brain and spinal cord that coordinates the activity of the bladder and urethral outlet. Experimental studies in animals indicate that urine storage is modulated by reflex mechanisms in the spinal cord, whereas voiding is mediated by a spinobulbospinal pathway passing through a coordination centre in the rostral brain stem. Many of the neural circuits controlling micturition exhibit switch-like patterns of activity that turn on and off in an all-or-none manner. This study summarizes the anatomy and physiology of the spinal and supraspinal micturition switching circuitry and describes a computer model of these circuits that mimics the switching functions of the bladder and urethra at the onset of micturition.

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