The Afferent Nervous System from a New Aspect



Henry Head

Publication Identity

Reprinted from, 'Brain', summer number, 1905



It has long been recognised, by all who have interested themselves in the problems of sensation, that no view yet advanced of the structure and functions of the afferent nervous system is sufficient to explain obvious facts. The teaching of the anatomist throws little light on the difficulties with which the surgeon is confronted. On the other hand, it is difficult to reconcile the various views concerning the nature of common sensibihty with the facts of clinical experience.

Such want of correspondence between observed facts and the prevailing general ideas showed that the distribution and function of the peripheral nerves required reconsideration. In the present paper we shall put forward a new view of the mechanism of sensation, based upon several different lines of research. If we may seem unduly to neglect the work of others, let it be remembered that this paper is introductory to a series of communications, each of which will deal with one aspect of the subject more exhaustively than is possible in a preliminary statement of a new hypothesis.