Join Mark Nielsen for a discussion on the evolutionary and developmental patterns that clarify the structural organization of the peripheral nervous system. This is the second webinar in this 4-part series on how science education has evolved in the face of new challenges.

The peripheral nervous system, from the cranial nerves to the spinal nerves and all their autonomic branches, is a daunting network of wires that communicate input and output between all parts of the body and the central nervous system.

Key Topics Include:

  • Why do all spinal nerves have the same basic structure?
  • Why does spinal nerve structure differ from cranial nerve structure?
  • Why are there dorsal root ganglia and not ventral root ganglia?
  • Why are there autonomic ganglia and two efferent neurons in the autonomic pathways?
  • Why is the parasympathetic output craniosacral in origin and the sympathetic output thoracolumbar in origin?
  • Why are there white communicating rami at only some spinal nerve levels and gray communicating rami at all spinal nerve levels?
  • Which nerves retain a more primitive structure, cranial nerves or spinal nerves and why?

Who Should Attend?

This presentation is intended for professors who want to have a more thorough understanding of peripheral nervous anatomy so they can more effectively teach students about this network of nerves and help their students become more effective learners.


Professor, John Legler Endowed Lecturer of Human Anatomy
University of Utah

Mark Nielsen is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Utah. For the past thirty-five years he has taught anatomy, neuroanatomy, embryology, human dissection, comparative anatomy, and an anatomy teaching course to over 28,000 students. His graduate training is in comparative anatomy, and his anatomy expertise has a strong basis in dissection. He has prepared and participated in hundreds of dissections of both humans and other vertebrate animals. All his courses incorporate a cadaver-based component to the training with an outstanding exposure to cadaver anatomy. He is a member of the American Association for Anatomy (AAA), the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) of which he is the past president, and the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA).

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