Efferent nerve fiber
|Efferent nerve fiber|
|Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy|
In the peripheral nervous system, an efferent nerve fiber is the axon of a motor neuron. The nerve fiber is a long process projecting far from the neuron's body that carries nerve impulses away from the central nervous system toward the peripheral effector organs (mainly muscles and glands). A bundle of these fibers is called a motor nerve or an efferent nerve.
In the nervous system there is a "closed loop" system of sensation, decision, and reactions. This process is carried out through the activity of sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons.
The efferent nerve fibers of motor neurons are involved in muscle control, both skeletal and smooth muscle. The cell body of the motor neuron is connected to a single, long axon and several shorter dendrites projecting out of the cell body itself. This axon then forms a neuromuscular junction with the effectors. The cell body of the motor neuron is satellite-shaped. The motor neuron is present in the grey matter of the spinal cord and medulla oblongata, and forms an electrochemical pathway to the effector organ or muscle. Besides motor nerves, there are efferent sensory nerves that often serve to adjust the sensitivity of the signal relayed by the afferent sensory nerve.
Etymology and mnemonics
Both afferent and efferent come from French, evolved from Latin (the basis of many terms in medicine and biology) for the terms, respectively, ad ferens (Latin verb ferre: carry), meaning carrying into, and ex ferens, meaning carrying away (ad literally means to, and e = ex means from). Ad and ex give an easy mnemonic device for remembering the relationship between afferent and efferent: afferent connection arrives and an efferent connection exits.
Afferent and efferent are connected to affect and effect through their common Latin roots: Afferent nerves affect the subject, whereas efferent nerves allow the subject to effect change.
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