Salivation

Saliva is fluid filtered from blood in the various salivary glands and secreted into the mouth via the different salivary ducts. Salivation is initiated by a combination of parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve activity. The parasympathetic final motoneurons are located in ganglia (otic, submandibular, and submaxillary) associated with the facial (cranial VII) and glossopharyngeal (cranial VIII) nerves and along the salivary ducts. The brain stem parasympathetic motoneurons regulating the salivary glands are located in the rostral medulla and caudal pons, diffusely spread in the reticular formation through a region extending dorsally and medially from the facial motor nucleus (cranial VII). Inputs from the forebrain to these parasympathetic neurons presumably mediate the "conditioned" salivation that occurs when we catch sight of food or when we think about food. Presumably, there are reasonably direct neural connections between the taste regions of the nucleus of the tractus solitarius and the parasympathetic salivary neurons, but these connections are not yet fully defined.

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