The Human Nervous System

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An illustration of the human nervous system.

The nervous system is the system of nerve cells and tissues that controls the actions and responses of the body. It consists mainly of the brain, spinal cord and a network of nerves that stretches throughout the body. The nervous system can be divided into two parts – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord. Its job is to regulate bodily activity.

The brain is an organ that is enclosed within the skull, is connected to the spinal cord and is composed of grey matter and white matter. The brain coordinates information it receives from every part of the body and makes the appropriate responses.

The spinal cord is the long cordlike part of the central nervous system connected to the base of the brain and enclosed within the backbone or vertebral column. It acts as the main information pathway between the brain and peripheral nervous system. It receives information from the skin, joints, muscles of the trunk, arms and legs and sends the information to the brain. When the brain has analyzed the information, it sends out instructions which are then carried by the spinal cord to the peripheral nervous system.

The peripheral nervous system is the part of the nervous system that lies outside of the brain and spinal cord. It includes the nerves that emanate from the central nervous system and extend to the limbs and many sense organs. The role of the peripheral nervous system is to transmit information or instructions between the central nervous system and the rest of the body.

Information and instructions are transmitted throughout the nervous system in the form of impulses. Impulses are electrical signals. In the nervous system, impulses travel from one nerve cell to another until they arrive at an organ or sensory receptor.

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