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The Nervous System (2)

The Nervous System (2)

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Published by Willy Butler

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Published by: Willy Butler on Mar 13, 2012
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12/15/2012

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The Nervous System
The nervous system controls and coordinates the functions of other systems of the bodyso they work harmoniously and efficiently. The nervous system is composed of the brain, spinalcord, and peripheral nerves. The primary function of the nervous system is to collect a multitudeof sensory information, process, interpret, and integrate that information, and initiate appropriateresponses throughout the body.The functions of the nervous system are:1.To rule the body by controlling all visible and invisible activities2.To control human thought and conduct3.To govern all internal and external movements of the body4.To give the power to see, hear, move, talk, feel, think, and remember Despite the complexity of the nervous system, it consists of only two principal kinds of cells: neurons and neuroglia.
Neurons
are responsible for most special functions attributed tothe nervous system: sensing, thinking, remembering, controlling muscle activity, and regulatingglandular secretions.
Neuroglia
support, nurture, and protect the neurons and maintainhomeostasis of the fluid that bathes neurons.
Neurons and Nerves
A neuron consists of a cell body and its outgrowth of projections called neuronal fibers.There are two types of neuronal fibers: numerous multibranched
dendrites
that connect withother neurons to
receive
information and a single
axon
that
conducts
impulses away from thecell body. The
cell body
stores energy and nutrients that are used by the cellular projections toreceive and conduct nerve impulses throughout the body. The ability of a neuron to receive astimulus is known as
irritability
. The ability of a neuron to conduct an impulse is known as
conductability
. Impulses are passed from one neuron to another at a junction called a
synapse
. When an impulse reaches the end of an axon, a chemical
neurotransmitter 
isreleased at the synapse that acts on the membrane of the receptive neuron to pass the impulsealong.There are three types of neurons classified according to the direction in which theytransmit nerve impulses and the type of information carried.
Sensory neurons
originate in theperiphery of the body and carry impulses or messages from sense organs to the brain wheresensations of touch, cold, heat, sight, hearing, taste, or pain are interpreted and experienced.
Motor neurons
carry nerve impulses from the brain to the muscles or glands that they control.
Interneurons
are located in the brain and spinal cord and carry impulses from one neuron toanother. Sensory neurons are also called
afferent 
neurons. Motor neurons are also called
efferent 
neurons. Interneurons are also called
central 
or 
connecting 
neurons.Almost all the nerve cell bodies are contained in the brain and spinal cord, while their fibers extend outward to make up the nerves. A
nerve
is a group of neuronal fibers (axons)found in the peripheral portions of the nervous system bundled together by connective tissue likethe strands of a cable. The axons found within a nerve are also individually wrapped by a fattyinsulating material called
myelin
. 
Divisions of the Nervous System
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The two principle divisions of the nervous system are the central nervous system and theperipheral nervous system.
Central Nervous System
The
central nervous system
(CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. Within theCNS, many different kinds of incoming sensory information are integrated and correlated,thoughts and emotions are generated, and memories are formed and stored. Most nerveimpulses that stimulate muscles to contract and glands to secrete originate in the CNS. TheCNS communicates with the rest of the body through the peripheral nervous system.The
brain
, the principle nerve center, is the body’s largest and most complex nerve tissuecontaining in excess of ten billion neurons and innumerable nerve fibers. It is located in andprotected by the cranium. It controls sensations, muscles, glandular activity, and the power tothink and feel (emotions). The brain includes three major portions:
1.
The
cerebrum
, the largest portion making up the front and top of the brain, presidesover such mental activities as speech, sensation, communication, memory, reasoning,and emotions.
2.
The
cerebellum
, the smaller part of the brain, located below the cerebrum and at theback of the cranium, helps maintain body balance, coordinates voluntary muscles, andmakes muscular movement smooth and graceful.
3.
The
brain stem
has three parts: the
midbrain
,
 pons
, and the
medulla oblongata
.These contain intricate masses of nerve fibers that relay and transmit impulses fromone portion of the brain to another.The
midbrain
contains the main nerve pathways connecting the cerebrum and thelower nervous system as well as certain visual and auditory reflexes that coordinate headand eye movement with things seen and heard.The
pons
, located between the midbrain and the medulla oblongata, relays nerveimpulses between the cerebrum and the medulla oblongata and from the cerebrum to thecerebellum.The
medulla oblongata
is an enlarged continuation of the spinal cord that extendsfrom the foramen magnum to the pons and connects the brain with the spinal cord.Control centers within the medulla oblongata regulate heart rate, rate and depth of respiration, and tonicity of the blood vessels.The
spinal cord
extends downward from the brain and is housed in and protected by thevertebral column. It extends down from the medulla oblongata to the level of the first lumbar vertebra. The spinal cord consists of thirty-one segments, each segment being the site of attachment of a pair of spinal nerves. The spinal cord functions as a conduction pathway for nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain as well as a reflex center between incoming andoutgoing peripheral nerve fibers.Several types of connective tissue surround and protect the delicate nervous tissue of thebrain and spinal cord including cranial bones, vertebrae, meninges, and a layer of cerebrospinalfluid. The
meninges
are three connective tissue coverings that encircle the brain and spinalcord. The most superficial and durable of the three meninges is called the
dura mater 
, which iscomposed of a very thick and strong connective tissue. The middle meninge is an avascular covering called the
arachnoid layer 
because of its “spider web” arrangement of delicate
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collagen fibers. The innermost meninge is the
pia mater 
, a thin transparent connective tissuelayer that adheres to the surface of the spinal cord and brain. It contains many blood vesselsthat supply nutrients and oxygen to the brain and spinal cord.The brain and spinal cord are also nourished and protected against chemical or physicalinjury by
cerebrospinal fluid
(CSF). This fluid continuously circulates around the brain andspinal cord inside the subarachnoid space found between the arachnoid layer and the pia mater.Although cerebrospinal fluid carries nutrients to the nerve tissue and carries wastes away, itsmain function is to protect the CNS by acting as a shock absorber for the delicate nervous tissue.
Peripheral Nervous System
The peripheral nervous system consists of all the nerves that connect the central nervoussystem to the rest of the body. It includes the
spinal nerves
, the
cranial nerves
, and all of their branches. Peripheral nerves send sensory impulses to the brain and spinal cord and transmitmotor impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, glands, and visceral organs.There are twelve pairs of 
cranial nerves
that connect directly to some part of the brainsurface and pass through openings on the sides and base of the cranium. They are classified as
motor 
,
sensory 
, and
mixed nerves
. Mixed nerves contain both motor and sensory fibers.The following is a brief discussion of the twelve cranial nerves:
Cranial Nerve Function
1. Olfactory nerveSense of smell2. Optic nerveSense of sight3. Oculomotor nerveControls eye movements4. Trochlear nerveControls eye movements5. Trigeminal nerveControls sensations of the face and movements of the jaw6. Abducent nerveControls eye movements7. Facial nerveControls facial muscles of expression and some muscles of the neck8. Auditory nerveSense of hearing9. GlossopharyngealnerveSense of taste10. Vagus nerveControls sensations and muscular movements relating to talking,heart action, and digestion11. Spinal accessorynerveControls movement of the neck muscles including the trapezius andsternocleidomastoid12. Hypoglossal nerveControls movement of the tongueThirty-one pairs of 
spinal nerves
emerge from the spinal cord. All spinal nerves are
mixed 
nerves that contain both sensory and motor nerve fibers to provide two-waycommunication between the CNS and the body. They emerge from the spinal cord in thefollowing order: eight pairs are attached to the cervical segments, twelve pairs are attached tothe thoracic segments, five pairs are attached to the lumbar segments, five pairs are attached tothe sacrospinal segments, and one pair is attached to the coccygeal segment. After spinalnerves exit from their spinal cord segments, they branch to form the many peripheral nerves of the trunk and limbs. Sometimes, neuronal fibers from several spinal nerves are reorganized to
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