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Keywords:

  • emotional motor system;
  • periaqueductal gray, pontine micturition center;
  • urge-incontinence

Abstract

Micturition is, similar to all other movements of the body, the result of activation of the motor system in the central nervous system. This review explains how the brain and brainstem control micturition. The basic reflex system begins with a distinct cell group called Gert's Nucleus (GN) in the sacral cord. GN receives information about bladder contents via A-δ fibers from the bladder and bladder sphincter and relays this information to the central part of the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG), but not to the thalamus. The PAG, in turn, in case of substantial bladder filling, excites the pontine micturition center (PMC), which cell group, via its long descending pathways to the sacral cord, induces micturition. Higher brain regions in prefrontal cortex and limbic system, by means of its projections to the PAG are able to interrupt this basic reflex system. It allows the individual to postpone micturition until time and place are appropriate. Lesions in the pathways from prefrontal cortex and limbic system to the PAG probably cause urge-incontinence in the elderly. Neurourol. Urodynam. 29: 42–48, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.