The Nervous System

By Olivia Graves

What is the Nervous System?

The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and nerve cells. The Central Nervous System (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. The Peripheral Nervous System consists of nerves.
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The Brain

Cerebrum: The cerebrum is also known as the cortex and is divided into four different lobes with their own special functions. The frontal lobe deals with thinking such as planning, reasoning, and problem solving. The frontal lobe also deals with speech, motor skills, and emotions.


Cerebellum: The cerebellum, which is divided into two hemispheres and has a highly folded surface, monitors and adjusts movement, posture, and balance.


Limbic System: The limbic system or the "emotional brain" is found within the cerebrum. It contains the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and the hippocampus.


Brain Stem: The brain stem, found under the limbic system, controls involuntary functions within the body such as breathing and heartbeat.

The Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is made up of gray and white matter and sends information from all over the body to the CNS. It is divided in to four major regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral.

Nerves

The spinal cord holds 31 pairs of nerves: 8 in the cervical region, 12 in the thoracic, 5 in the lumbar, 5 in sacral, and 1 in the lowest region (coccygeal). All nerves are denoted with the letter pertaining to the region along with which number it is. For example, the third pair of nerves in the thoracic region would be denoted as T3.


The nerves of the cervical region connect to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and the diaphragm. Nerves in the thoracic region attach to chest, areas of the abdomen, and muscles in the upper back. In the lumbar region, the nerves link with the lower back and abdomen, buttocks, and parts of the legs. The nerves of the sacral region connect with the thighs, lower legs, and feet.

Nerve Cells

There are two main types of nerve cells: neurons and neuroglia. There are several types of neurons such as motor, sensory, and relay neurons. Neurons operate by sending electrical impluses that travel through nerves. Neuroglia, also known as glia, do not send impulses, but their function depends on where they are located within the nervous system. The types of neuroglia consist of astroglial, ependymal, microglial, oligodendrocyte, and schwann cells.

Possible Diseases & Treatments

Meningitis: Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges. The meninges is the membrane that wraps around the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be cause by viral and bacterial infections, direct contact of bacteria with the meninges if exposed, and rarely after a surgery. Symptoms of meningitis consist of high fever, stiff neck, vomiting and nausea, seizures, and loss of appetite. Bacterial meningitis can be cured by taking antibiotics. Viral meningitis can be cured by bed rest and drinking a lot of fluids.


Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is the uncontrollable condition that induces brief episodes of sleep. Narcolepsy is caused by the low levels of Hypocretin, a neurochemical that regulates REM sleep, in the spinal fluid. Symptoms of narcolepsy include excessive sleepiness, rapid loss of toned muscles, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations. Although narcolepsy does not have a cure, patients are given drugs that keep them awake during the day and others to help improve sleep at night.


Encephalitis: Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain tissue and can be caused by viral and bacterial infections directly attacking the brain tissue or as a response to an infects somewhere else in the body. Patients suffering from encephalitis may experience headache, fever, and achy or weak muscles and joints. Patients could also experience hallucinations, seizures, double vision, and loss of consciousness. Treatment for encephalitis includes bed rest, drinking fluids, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Article Summary

Research has shown that people who suffer from schizophrenia have different brain "patterns" than of those who do not suffer from schizophrenia. The intricate weaving or folding of the brain create critical connections for normal daily function and thinking. If there are less folds in the brain, there are less connections resulting in schizophrenia and also bipolar disorder.

Works Cited

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Elsevier. "Is the pattern of brain folding a 'fingerprint' for schizophrenia?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140911092915.htm>.

"Groups of Nerves." American Medical Association. American Medical Association, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/patient-education-materials/atlas-of-human-body/nervous-system-groups.page>.

Kinser, Patricia. "Brain Structures and their Functions." Brain Structures and Their Functions. Serendip, 5 Sept. 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/kinser/Structure1.html>

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Encephalitis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 May 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/encephalitis/basics/symptoms/con-20021917>.

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Mayo Clinic Staff. "Encephalitis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 May 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/encephalitis/basics/treatment/con-20021917>

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Mayo Clinic Staff. "Meningitis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/basics/symptoms/con-20019713>.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Meningitis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/basics/treatment/con-20019713>.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Narcolepsy." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcolepsy/basics/symptoms/con-20027429>.

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Mayo Clinic Staff. "Narcolepsy." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcolepsy/basics/treatment/con-20027429>.

"Structure and Functions of Nervous Tissue." IvyRose Holistic. IvyRose, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.ivy-rose.co.uk/HumanBody/Tissue/Tissue_Nervous-Tissue.php>.