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Explain the functions of the central nervous system (CNS), peripheral nervous system (PNS) (including ANS and the endocr5ine system) and outline their role in behaviour patterns.

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EXPLAIN THE FUNCTIONS OF THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS), PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (PNS) (INCLUSING ANS AND THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM) AND OUTLINE THEIR ROLE IN BEHAVIOUR PATTERNS. The function of the nervous system is to carry messages rapidly from one part of the body to another. It can be divided into the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). One of the main functions of the CNS is the processing of sensory information. Sensory information is received through the specialised sense organs 'the information then travels to the central nervous system in order to be analysed, and in order for action to be based on its implications.' (Hayes, 1994, pg345). The CNS is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord, which consists of grey and white matter; grey matter forms the outside, with white matter inside. Grey matter contains nerve cells whilst the white matter contains nerve fibres. The brain has four major functions: * It receives information from the sense organs. * It controls muscle movements. * It is the centre of the autonomic nervous system. * It controls consciousness, intelligence, reasoning, memory, personality, and 'knowing who we are.' ...read more.


The physical state of the membrane lipids is made more fluid through the alcohol dissolving in the membrane. This in turn leads to a reduction in neuronal activity and is what causes the debilitating effects on the sensory and motor functions. Alcohol also affects the neurotransmitter systems, particularly norepinephrine, dopamine and seratonin. (biogenic amines) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are related to altering mood and anxiety reduction. 'Alcohol enhances the inhibitory actions of GABA, which is the most important inhibitory transmitter in the brain.' (Nestoros, 1980; Suzdak, Schwartz, Akolnick, and Paul, 1986; cited by Rosenhan & Seligman, 1995, pg526). 'Alcohol acts at the same GABA receptor complex as the benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs (Librium, Valium, etc.) and it is believed that this action is responsible for the anxiety-relieving properties of alcohol (Lister and Durcan, 1989; Koob, Mendelson, Schafer, Wall, Britton and Bloom, 1989; cited by (Rosenhan & Seligman, 1995, pg526). Alcohol is a widely used, socially acceptable drug in the majority of western cultures, yet it is rarely seen as a drug that so powerfully impacts our biological systems causing the widely recognised changes in our behaviour. Electrical and neuro-chemical activity in the brain is also related to behaviour. ...read more.


These chemicals 'combine with synaptic receptors; measuring receptor activity can tell something about neurotransmitter function in the brain. An example would be studies of changes in dopamine and serotonin receptor numbers in schizophrenia.' (Cardwell et al, 2000, pg297). MRI scanning involves placing the head in a powerful magnetic field where successions of electro-magnetic waves are passed through the brain. The neurones in the brain then produce electo-magnetic waves themselves, which are recorded by computer as a three-dimensional picture. The advantage of this procedure over the CAT scan is that not only is the level detail better, but the patient is not exposed to x-rays. As technology develops so new techniques arise. Some recent scanning technology is the magnetoenecephalography (MEG) which records the tiny magnetic fields produced by active neurones, single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) which tracks blood flow through the brain and superconducting quantum imaging/interference device (SQUID) which also detects tiny changes in magnetic fields. In conclusion it is clear from this brief overview that the human body is a complex system whereby physiological and psychological intertwine to produce efficient functioning. As technology develops so we can gain insight into the more intricate functioning of the brain, but it is important to remember that although this can shed light on some aspects of behaviour, the complexities of the mind and social interplay will also play a part. ...read more.

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