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What is the Nervous System?

What is the Nervous System?

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Published by Nam Tan
What is the Nervous System?
Function of the Nervous System
Development of the Nervous System
Pathology of the Nervous System
What is the Nervous System?
Function of the Nervous System
Development of the Nervous System
Pathology of the Nervous System

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Published by: Nam Tan on Jan 18, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/17/2011

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What is the Nervous System?
The
nervous system
is an organ system containing a network of specialized cellscalled neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals betweendifferent parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts,central and peripheral. The central nervous system contains the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory neurons, clusters of neurons called ganglia, and nerves connecting them to each other and to the centralnervous system. These regions are all interconnected by means of complex neuralpathways. The enteric nervous system, a subsystem of the peripheral nervoussystem, has the capacity, even when severed from the rest of the nervous systemthrough its primary connection by the vagus nerve, to function independently incontrolling the gastrointestinal system.
 
 Neurons send signals to other cells as electrochemical waves travelling along thinfibres called axons, which cause chemicals called neurotransmitters to be released at junctions called synapses. A cell that receives a synaptic signal may be excited,inhibited, or otherwise modulated. Sensory neurons are activated by physical stimuliimpinging on them, and send signals that inform the central nervous system of thestate of the body and the external environment. Motor neurons, situated either inthe central nervous system or in peripheral ganglia, connect the nervous system tomuscles or other effector organs. Central neurons, which in vertebrates greatlyoutnumber the other types, make all of their input and output connections withother neurons. The interactions of all these types of neurons form neural circuitsthat generate an organism's perception of the world and determine its behavior.
 
 Along with neurons, the nervous system contains other specialized cells called glialcells (or simply glia), which provide structural and metabolic support.Nervous systems are found in most multicellular animals, but vary greatly incomplexity. but their internal structure was not understood until it became possibleto examine them using a microscope. A microscopic examination shows that nervesconsist primarily of the axons of neurons, along with a variety of membranes thatwrap around them and segregate them into fascicles. The neurons that give rise tonerves do not lie within them—their cell bodies reside within the brain,spinal cord, or peripheral ganglia.The vertebrate nervous system can also be divided into areas called grey matter  ("gray matter"in American spelling) and white matter.
Bilateria
The vast majority of existing animals are bilaterians, meaning animals with left andright sides that are approximate mirror images of each other. All bilateria arethought to have descended from a common wormlike ancestor that appeared in theCambrian period, 550–600 million years ago. The fundamental bilaterian body formis a tube with a hollow gut cavity running from mouth to anus, and a nerve cordwith an enlargement (a"ganglion") for each body segment, with an especially large ganglion at the front, called the"brain".

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