The trigeminal nerve complex is a very important and somewhat unique component of the nervous system. It is responsible for the sensory signals that arise from the most part of the face, mouth, nose, meninges, and facial muscles, and also for the motor commands carried to the masticatory muscles. These signals travel through a very complex set of structures: dermal receptors, trigeminal branches, Gasserian ganglion, central nuclei, and thalamus, finally reaching the cerebral cortex. Other neural structures participate, directly or indirectly, in the transmission and modulation of the signals, especially the nociceptive ones; these include vagus nerve, sphenopalatine ganglion, occipital nerves, cervical spinal cord, periaqueductal gray matter, hypothalamus, and motor cortex. But not all stimuli transmitted through the trigeminal system are perceivable. There is a constant selection and modulation of the signals, with either suppression or potentiation of the impulses. As a result, either normal sensory perceptions are elicited or erratic painful sensations are created. Electrical neuromodulation refers to adjustable manipulation of the central or peripheral pain pathways using electrical current for the purpose of reversible modification of the function of the nociceptive system through the use of implantable devices. Here, we discuss not only the distal components, the nerve itself, but also the sensory receptors and the main central connections of the brain, paying attention to the possible neuromodulation targets.
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