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The Nervous System- Nervous Tissue. The Nervous system has three major functions : Sensory – monitors internal & external environment through presence of receptors Integration – interpretation of sensory information (information processing )

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The Nervous system has three major functions:

    • Sensory – monitors internal & external environment through presence of receptors
    • Integration – interpretation of sensory information (information processing)
    • Motor – response to information processed through stimulation of effectors
        • muscle contraction
        • glandular secretion
Two Anatomical Divisions

Central nervous system (CNS)


Spinal cord

Peripheral nervous system (PNS)

All the neural tissue outside CNS

Afferent division (sensory input)

Efferent division (motor output)

Somatic nervous system

Autonomic nervous system

General Organization of the nervous system


Histology of neural tissue

  • Two types of neural cells in the nervous system:
    • Neurons - For processing,transfer, and storage of information
    • Neuroglia – For support, regulation & protection of neurons

Neuroglia (glial cells)

  • CNS neuroglia:
      • astrocytes
      • oligodendrocytes
      • microglia
      • ependymal cells
  • PNS neuroglia:
      • Schwann cells (neurolemmocytes)
      • satellite cells


  • create supportive framework for neurons
  • create “blood-brain barrier”
  • monitor & regulate interstitial fluid surrounding neurons
  • secrete chemicals for embryological neuron formation


  • create myelin sheath around axons of neurons in the CNS. Myelinated axons transmit impulses faster than unmyelinated axons
  • Microglia
  • “brain macrophages”
  • phagocytize cellular wastes & pathogens

Ependymal cells

  • line ventricles of brain & central canal of spinal cord
  • produce, monitor & help circulate CSF (cerebrospinal fluid)

Schwann cells

  • surround all axons of neurons in the PNS creating a neurilemma around them. Neurilemma allows for potential regeneration of damaged axons
  • creates myelin sheath around most axons of PNS
  • Satellite cells
  • support groups of cell bodies of neurons within ganglia of the PNS

Most axons of the nervous system are surrounded by a myelin sheath (myelinated axons)

  • The presence of myelin speeds up the transmission of action potentials along the axon
  • Myelin will get laid down in segments (internodes) along the axon, leaving unmyelinated gaps known as “nodes of Ranvier”

of Ranvier


Key Note

Neurons perform all of the communication, information processing, and control functions of the nervous system. Neuroglia outnumber neurons and have functions essential to preserving the physical and biochemical structure of neural tissue and the survival of neurons.

classification of neurons
Classification of neurons

Functional classification based on type of information & direction of information transmission:

  • Sensory (afferent) neurons –
      • transmit sensory information from receptors of PNS towards the CNS
  • Motor (efferent) neurons –
      • transmit motor information from the CNS to effectors (muscles/glands/adipose tissue) in the periphery of the body
  • Association (interneurons) –
      • transmit information between neurons within the CNS; analyze inputs, coordinate outputs
      • most common type of neuron (20 billion)
conduction across synapses
Conduction across synapses

In order for neural control to occur, “information” must not only be conducted along nerve cells, but must also be transferred from one nerve cell to another across a synapse

Most synapses within the nervous system are chemical synapses, & involve the release of a neurotransmitter