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Discuss the human nervous system, with reference to its structure, function and information flow.

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Discuss the Human Nervous System, with Reference to its Structure, Function and Information Flow By Mitali Roy There is a relationship between the structure of the human nervous system, its function and its information flow. The human nervous system is structured and is the most complex system in the body. It is composed of cells arranged in networks and circuits to process information. (Purves et al, 2001) It consists of the brain, spinal cord and the peripheral nerves and these are organised to detect changes in the external and the internal environments, process these changes and then to make the appropriate response to it. (Adds et al, 2000) The brain and spinal cord are part of the central nervous system (CNS) and their job is to integrate sensory information from various receptors and to give an appropriate response to it. (Toole et al, 1991) Paired nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system and they connect the brain and spinal cord to the tissues and organs of the body, especially to the sensory organs of the body. They can either come directly from the brain and so are called cranial nerves or from the spinal chord and are called the spinal nerves. (Toole et al, 1991) The peripheral nervous system can be split into the afferent and efferent nervous system. ...read more.


As the diameter of the axon increases the conduction velocity of the nerve impulses also increases, but when an axon becomes myelinated the conduction velocity of an impulse is faster than a non-myelinated axon of the same diameter. So therefore a reaction to the information happens a lot faster. (Adds et al, 2000) The following is a section of an axon and the myelin sheath formed by Schwann cells (Adds et all, 2000) For information to pass to the brain or to the spinal cord it has to be passed in the form of nerve impulses through the neurone. The function of the axon aids the information flow. A nerve impulse involves the movement of ions through the axon membrane. When a nerve impulse is taking place sodium ions are moving into the axon and potassium ions are moving out. When a neurone does not conduct an impulse it is at resting state and the inside of the axon has a negative electrical charge. (Adds et al, 2000) When positively charged sodium ions enter the inside becomes depolarised and an action potential is generated, then the potassium ions move out making the inside of the axon negatively charged again and so therefore restoring the resting potential. (Toole et al, 1991) The ion pumps and channels in the axons cause the resting and action potentials when information is passed through. ...read more.


(Adds et al, 2000) The midbrain's job is to conduct impulses between hindbrain and midbrain. It contains centres associated with visual and auditory reflex actions. (Toole et al, 1991) The cerebellum works with the cerebrum and helps coordinate movement of skeletal muscles and maintenance of balance and body posture. (Purves et al, 2001) The medulla oblongata has nerve fibres between the brain and spinal cord, it controls the rate and force of the heartbeat. It also controls the rate and depth of breathing and the diameter of blood vessels. It also controls reflexes such as sneezing and coughing. (Purves et al, 2001) The function of the spinal cord is linked with the medulla oblongata and is made of a central area of grey matter and external layer of white matter. In the centre of the spinal cord there is the central canal with the cerebrospinal fluid. (Adds et al, 2000) The grey matter has cell bodies of nerve cells and transmits impulses to the skeletal muscle and to the unmyelinated connector neurones. Whereas the white matter has nerve fibres which conduct impulses to and from the brain. (Toole et al, 1991) In conclusion there is a relationship between the structure of the human nervous system, its function and information flow. The human nervous system is a very complex system and a lot of things are occurring in the different departments to make it work and the things described in this essay are just some of the things going on. ...read more.

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