THE NERVOUS SYSTEM Functions of the Nervous System The nervous system is a network of communication used by body parts to maintain homeostasis and bodily functions. The nervous system gathers information from inside and outside of the body, responds to the information that it gathers and helps to maintain homeostasis. • A change in the environment causes an organism to react called a stimulus. • The nervous system will then examine the information from the stimulus and produce a response. • Homeostasis is maintained by the nervous system responding and making the necessary changes to adjust to the environment. There are two parts to the nervous system: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. First, let’s examine the structures and the core process of communication in all systems. Neuron structure and function The nervous system cells that carry messages called neurons. The messages that neurons carry are called nerve impulses. The structure of a neuron is consistent between the different types of neurons. There is a large cell body that contains a nucleus. There are threadlike structures that surround the cell body called dendrites. A dendrite carries messages to the cell body of a neuron. Another threadlike structure attaches to the cell body called an axon. The axon carries messages away from the cell body of a neuron. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
There is only one axon attached to each neuron. Both axons and dendrites are called nerve fibers. Nerve fibers are wrapped together like a rope that is made of many thin strings and covered in connective tissue and called a nerve. Three types of neurons There are three different types of neurons: sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons. The three different types of neurons will work together to carry messages all throughout the nervous system. • The sensory neuron picks up the stimulus from inside or outside of the body and turns it into a nerve impulse. Every nerve impulse begins in the dendrites of a neuron and move rapidly along the cell until it reaches an axon tip. • There is a small space or gap in between the axon tip and the dendrite, neuron, muscle, or other cell the axon is connected to called a synapse. • The nerve impulse must cross the synapse in order to pass the impulse along to the next structure. Once the nerve impulse reaches the axon tip, the axon will release a chemical that allows the impulse to travel across the synapse called a neurotransmitter. The impulse will travel from neuron to neuron in this same way. • The impulse travels along many different sensory neurons until it reaches an interneuron. The interneuron is usually located in the brain or spinal cord, and passes the nerve impulses on to other neurons. • A motor neuron receives a nerve impulse from another neuron and sends the message to a muscle, causing it to contract. Lesson Checkpoint: Where does every nerve impulse begin in the nervous system structure? © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
The Central Nervous System All of the information inside and outside of the body is brought to the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls the functions of the body. Organs of the Central Nervous System The brain and the spinal cord are the organs of the central nervous system. Notice that the organs of the central nervous system are located in the center of the body. • The brain is located within the skull and controls most of the functions of the body. • The spinal cord is located in the center of the back. It links the brain to the majority of the nerves in the peripheral nervous system. Impulses from the peripheral nervous system travel through the spinal cord to get to the brain. The brain responds with an impulse that travels back through the spinal cord and out into the peripheral nervous system. The Brain There are about 100 billion neurons located within the brain and they are all interneurons. There is a skull, three layers of connective tissue, and fluid that surrounds the brain to protect it from being damaged. There are three major parts that make up the brain. They are the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. Cerebrum: The largest portion of the brain is the cerebrum and is located at the top of the brain. The cerebrum interprets information from the senses, controls the skeletal muscles, and carries out processes like judging, remembering, and learning. The cerebrum is divided into the right and left cerebrum. Each half has its own functions. The right cerebrum receives impulses from the skeletal muscles on the left side of the body and the left cerebrum receives impulses from the right. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
Cerebellum: The cerebellum helps to keep your balance by coordinating muscle movements. Brainstem: The brainstem controls the involuntary muscles of the body, such as your heart. The Spinal Cord The spinal cord is housed within the vertebral column. The spinal cord connects the brain with the peripheral nervous system. The spinal cord is also protected by connective tissue and fluid. Lesson Checkpoint: Which part of your brain controls your decision-making process? Peripheral Nervous System The peripheral nervous system consists of all of the nerves that branch throughout the body from the central nervous system. Nerves from the peripheral nervous system come in pairs. There are identical nerves on each side of the body. Nerve impulses are able to travel in both directions, which increases the speed of response from the brain. There are two different types of nerves that make up the peripheral nervous system. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
Two types of nerves They are the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system controls voluntary movements. The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary movements. Reflexes A reflex is a rapid action that occurs without control, automatically. As we have already learned, the brain controls the movement of skeletal muscles. In certain instances, the spinal cord causes the skeletal muscles to contract. This speeds up reactions that may cause damage to the body. The senses Hearing: The stimulus of sound is picked up by the ears, which respond to sound. The Ears: The ears are specialized organs that are able to pick up vibrations created by sound. The stimulus received by the ears is converted into nerve impulses and sent to the brain where it is interpreted. The sound that is heard is created by vibrations that an object makes. The vibrations create waves that move out in a circular arrangement. There are three parts that make up the ear: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. • The outer ear is the portion that is visible and is shaped like a funnel. At the end of the ear canal is a structure that catches the sound called the eardrum. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
• The eardrum is a membrane that vibrates when sound waves reach it. The eardrum is a structure that separates the outer and middle ear. • Within the middle ear are structures called the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, which are the smallest bones in the body. These structures pass the sound vibrations along to the inner ear to a structure called the cochlea. • The cochlea is a snail-shaped tube that is filled with fluid and responds to sound waves with receptors. When the fluid moves within the cochlea, the receptors are stimulated. Balance: Above the cochlea are structures called the semicircular canals. The semicircular canals are structures that give an individual their sense of balance. Sight: The eyes are sense organs that respond to variations in light. The nerve impulses created by the eyes are sent to the brain where they are interpreted into sight. • Light enters the eyes through the cornea, which is a clear tissue covering the front of the eye. • The light continues until it reaches the opening that lets light into the eye called the pupil. • The amount of light that enters the eye is controlled by the circular muscles of the iris. After the light passes through the pupil, it enters a flexible structure that focuses light called the lens. • The light then moves through a gel like substance until it reaches the retina. The retina is a layer of receptor cells that line the back portion of the eye. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.
Smell: There are receptors in the nose that react with chemicals within the air. When you smell something, chemicals have reacted with those receptors and the information about the smell is sent to the brain where it is processed. The human nose is able to tell the difference between more than 50 different odors. Taste: The sense of taste also depends on chemicals. • When something is eaten, the saliva begins to break the molecules down. • The taste buds that are located on the tongue react with the chemicals within the food. There are four types of taste buds on the tongue: bitter, sweet, salty, and sour. There are specific places on the tongue where each type of taste bud is located. • The information is then sent to the brain where it is interpreted. Touch: The skin is the receptor for touch. The different receptors pick up information like light touch, intense pressure, pain, and temperature. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for the purchaser to print copies for non-commercial educational purposes only. Visit us at www.NewPathLearning.com.