Medial lemniscus

Last revised by Frank Gaillard on 8 May 2020

The medial lemniscus, also known as Reil's band, is an ascending bundle of myelinated axons extending from the gracile and cuneate nuclei in the dorsal medulla up to the contralateral thalamus.

Gross anatomy

The medial lemniscus is part of the larger dorsal column-medial lemniscus pathway, important for conveying the sensation for fine (discriminative) touch, vibration and conscious proprioception. 


Gracile and cuneate nuclei are second-order sensory neurons which receive peripheral input from the first-order neurons in the gracile fasciculus and the cuneate fasciculus of the dorsal columns. These nuclei send out axons called the internal arcuate fibers, which become the medial lemniscus after they decussate in the medulla oblongata 1,2.

The medial lemniscus terminates in the ventral posterior nuclei of the thalamus - ventral posterolateral (VPL) and ventral posteromedial (VPM) - where it synapses with the third-order neurons which transmit information to the postcentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex 1,2.​

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