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The Nervous system

How does it work?

Nearly all multicellular organisms have communication systems. Specialized cells carry messages from one cell to another so that communication among all body parts is smooth and efficient.

Communicate to maintain homeostasis

There are two systems used for communication in your body:
The nervous system controls and coordinates functions throughout the body and responds to internal and external stimuli with the use of nerves The endocrine system performs a similar function with the use of hormones

Nervous Response
Stimulus: any change that results in a change in the organism. temperature, light, pressure, sound, smell, etc. Response: any action resulting from a stimulus. contraction of muscle cells secretion by a gland stimulation of another nerve fiber.

Messages carried by the nervous system are electrical signals = impulses Nerve cells that transmit impulses = neurons
Sensory neurons: carry impulses from sense organs to the spinal cord and brain Motor neurons: carry impulses from the brain and spinal cord to muscles and glands Interneurons: connect sensory and motor neurons and carry impulses between them

Parts of a Neuron
Cell body = largest part containing nucleus and cytoplasm (most metabolic activity occur here) Dendrites = short, branched extensions spreading out from the cell body and they carry impulses from the environment or other neurons towards the cell body Axon = long fibers that carry impulses away from the cell body and ends at the axon terminal

A Neuron
Section 35-2


Axon terminals Cell body Myelin sheath




Neurons bundle together to form nerves Some nerves may be only a few neurons, and others may be hundreds or thousands The myelin sheath may insulate axons by surrounding it There may be some gaps in the myelin sheath called nodes Impulses jump from one node to the next, increasing the speed impulses travel

Resting Nerve
Nerve impulses are electrical The electric potential is created as the result of a sodium - potassium pump It uses ATP to pump sodium ions (Na+) out and potassium ions (K+) in = active transport This results in a negative charge inside the cell membrane and positive charge outside = resting potential

Nerve Impulse
An impulse begins when a neuron is stimulated by another neuron or by the environment. An impulse causes positively charged sodium ions to flow in temporarily reversing the charge of the cell membrane = action potential As the impulse passes, positively charged potassium ions flow out and the charges restore to the normal resting potential

Figure 35-7 An Impulse

Section 35-2

Action Potential

At rest.

As the action potential passes, potassium gates open, allowing K+ ions to flow out. Action Potential

Action Potential

At the leading edge of the impulse, the sodium gates open. The membrane becomes more permeable to Na+ ions and an action potential occurs.

The action potential continues to move along the axon in the direction of the nerve impulse.

At the end of the neuron, the impulse reaches an axon terminal where the impulse may be passed along to another neuron or another cell The location where a neuron can transfer an impulse to another cell = synapse The synapse is a small gap that separates the axon terminal from the dendrites of the next neuron or another cell The terminals contain tiny sacs or vesicles filled with neurotransmitters = chemicals used by a neuron to transmit an impulse across a synapse The neurotransmitters stimulate the next neuron The impulse will continue with the stimulation exceeds the cells threshold

Figure 35-8 The Synapse

Section 35-2
Direction of Impulse Dendrite of adjacent neuron Axon Vesicle Receptor

Axon terminal Synaptic cleft Neurotransmitter

Reaction activity
Reaction time = the amount of time required for an impulse travel from your sensory neurons to your motor neurons

The Nervous System

Neurons work together forming the nervous system There are two major divisions of the nervous system:
Central nervous system (CNS) Peripheral nervous system (PNS)

Parts of the Nervous system

Central nervous system (CNS):
Brain Spinal Cord

Peripheral nervous system (PNS):

Sensory division Motor division
Somatic nervous system Autonomic nervous system

Central Nervous System

The CNS is the control center of the body:
Relays messages Processes information Analyzes information

Brain and Spinal cord

Both are
protected by bone wrapped in 3 layers of connective tissue = meninges layers may have a space between them filled with cerebrospinal fluid which protects (shock absorber) and exchanges nutrients and waste

About 100 billion neurons, mainly interneurons Major parts of the brain:
Cerebrum Cerebellum Brain stem Thalamus Hypothalamus

Figure 35-9 The Brain

Section 35-3

Cerebrum Thalamus Pineal gland

Hypothalamus Pituitary gland Pons Medulla oblongata Spinal cord Cerebellum

Spinal Cord
Links communication between the brain and the rest of the body 31 pairs of spinal nerves branch out from the spinal cord connecting brain to body Reflexes = quick, automatic responses to stimuli are processed directly in the spinal cord

Figure 35-11 The Spinal Cord

Section 35-3

Gray matter

Central canal

Spinal nerve

White matter


Peripheral Nervous System

PNS animation (Pain receptor) : layAnimation.aspx?gcid=000054&ptid=17

Consists of nerves and associated cells that are not part of the brain or spinal cord Receives information from the environment and relays commands from the CNS to organs and glands Divided into two parts:
Sensory division: transmits impulses from sense organs to the CNS Motor division: transmits impulses from the CNS to the muscles or glands

Somatic System
Part of motor division that regulates activities that are under conscious control (movement of skeletal muscles) Some reflexes too

What is a Reflex?
A reflex is an involuntary behavior. Reflexes are usually coordinated in the spinal cord not the brain. They are present from birth They are automatic They are meant to protect the body Examples: blinking (keeps your eyes hydrated) pulling your hand away when you touch something hot. changing pupil size as you move from dark to light.

Receptors & Effectors

Receptor: a specialized nervous tissue that is sensitive to a specific stimulus.
nerve cells in skin eyes ears taste buds

Effectors: the part/s of the body that respond

muscles or glands

Reflex Arc
The pathway that an impulse travels:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. from the sensory receptor up the sensory neuron over the synapse to the spinal cord (interneuron) over another synapse back down the motor neuron to the effector

Reflex arc animations: 1. 2.

Autonomic System
Part of the motor division that regulates activities that are automatic or involuntary (heart beat and smooth muscle in digestive system and blood vessels) Two parts that have opposite effects on the organs they control: Sympathetic (gas pedal) Parasympathetic (brake)

Concept Map
Section 35-3 The Nervous System
is divided into Central nervous system Motor nerves that make up Somatic nervous system Autonomic nervous system which is divided into Sympathetic nervous system Parasympathetic nervous system Peripheral nervous system which consists of Sensory nerves

Sensory Receptors
Neurons that react directly to stimuli from the environment and send impulses to other neuron and CNS
Light Sound Motion Chemicals Pressure Changes in temperature

Sense organs
Sensory receptors are concentrated in the sense organs:
Eyes Ears Nose Mouth Skin

Types of Sensory receptors

Sensory receptors within each organ enable it to respond to particular stimuli. The five general categories of sensory receptors are:
Pain receptors Thermoreceptors Mechanoreceptors Chemoreceptors Photoreceptors

The 5 Senses
See Hear Smell Taste Touch

See (Vision)
Photoreceptors = sense light

Hearing and Balance

Sound = vibration in air detected by mechanoreceptors Balance = As head moves, fluid shifts and hair cells bend and send impulses to the CNS to determine body motion and position

Smell = ability to detect chemicals detected by chemoreceptors in nasal passageway and send impulses to CNS through sensory nerves

How food tastes is strongly influenced by smell Taste = ability to sense chemicals by chemoreceptors in taste buds mostly on tongue (sweet, sour, salty and bitter sensitivity is different on different parts of tongue)

Skin = largest sense organ containing pain receptors, thermoreceptors, and mechanoreceptors

Senses activity
Different parts of skin have different sensitivity because theres a different numbers of receptors at different locations

Drugs = substance that changes the structure or function of the body Drugs can interfere with the action of neurotransmitters at the synapse, which can disrupt the functioning of the nervous system

Increase the actions regulated by the nervous system by increasing the release of neurotransmitters at synapses (increase heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate)
Amphetamines Cocaine Nicotine Caffeine

Decrease the actions regulated by the nervous system (lowering heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, relaxing muscles, and relieving tension)
Alcohol Tranquilizers

One of the most dangerous and abused depressant drug that slows down functioning rate of CNS Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) = a group of birth defects caused by the effects of alcohol on the fetus (heart defects, malformed faces, delayed growth, and poor motor development Alcoholism = disease of people who have become addicted to alcohol Causes damage to liver where alcohol is broken down

Some drugs that act on neurons of the pleasure centers of the brain can produce an addiction = an uncontrollable craving for more of the drug or dependence on a drug
Cocaine causes sudden release of the neurotransmitter dopamine Opiates mimic natural endorphins to overcome pain Marijuana produces temporary feeling of euphoria and disorientation

Drug abuse = using any drug in a way that most doctors couldnt approve

Commonly Abused Drugs

Section 35-5

Drug Type Stimulants

Medical Use Used to increase alertness, relieve fatigue

Examples Amphetamines

Effects on the body Increase heart and respiratory rates; elevate blood pressure; dilate pupils; decrease appetite Slow down the actions of the central nervous system; small amounts cause calmness and relaxation; larger amounts cause slurred speech and impaired judgement Act as a depressant; cause drowsiness, restlessness, nausea


Used to relieve anxiety, irritability, tension

Barbiturates Tranquilizers


Used to relieve pain

Morphine Codeine