Anterior spinothalamic tract

Dr Craig Hacking and Dr Dinesh Palipana et al.

The anterior spinothalamic tract, also known as the ventral spinothalamic fasciculus, is an ascending pathway located anteriorly within the spinal cord, primarily responsible for transmitting coarse touch and pressure. 

The lateral spinothalamic tract (discussed separately), in contrast, primarily transmits pain and temperature.

Gross anatomy

Peripheral connections

First-order neurones from peripheral receptors enter the spinal cord via the posterior roots. Axon terminals of these neurones synapse with second-order neurones whose cell bodies are located in the posterior grey horn of the cord. These second-order neurones that are considered the spinothalamic tract.


Different to the lateral spinothalamic tract, the second-order axons of the anterior spinothalamic tract decussate after ascending a few segments. The anterior spinothalamic tract lies in the anterior funiculus, medial to where the ventral spinal roots exit. It overlaps the vestibulospinal tract. Fibres of this tract are somatotopically organised for their entire course.

At the lower brainstem, the anterior tract joins the medial lemniscus. The neurones of the spinothalamic tract terminate in the ventral posterior nucleus of the thalamus after ascent. Here, they synapse with third-order neurones. These neurones project to the primary somatosensory area on the ipsilateral side of the cerebral cortex.

Related pathology

Anatomy: Spine
Share article

Article information

rID: 49154
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Anterior spinothalamic tracts
  • Ventral spinothalamic fasciculus

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: spinal cord diagram
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Spinal tracts. Im...
    Figure 2: spinal cord and tracts
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.