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The Nervous System. Chapters 11-15. General Overview. Master controlling and communications system of the body Rapid & specific electrical impulses cause almost immediate responses. Three overlapping functions :.

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the nervous system

The Nervous System

Chapters 11-15

general overview
General Overview
  • Master controlling and communications system of the body
  • Rapid & specific electrical impulses cause almost immediate responses
three overlapping functions
Three overlapping functions:
  • Gather sensory input by monitoring internal and external stimuli (changes) using millions of sensory receptors
  • Integration - Processes and interprets sensory input and makes decisions about what should be done
  • Effects a motor output (response) by activating muscles or glands.

The nervous system works in conjuction with the endocrine system to maintain homeostasis.

The electrical impulses of the N.S. cause a more rapid response than the chemical hormones of the endocrine system.

structural classification
Structural Classification
  • Central Nervous System:
    • Brain and spinal cord
    • Integrating & command center:
      • Interpret incoming sensory info
      • Issue instructions based on past experience and current conditions
  • Peripheral Nervous System:
    • Nerves that extend from the brain and spinal cord (spinal & cranial nerves)
    • Serve as communication lines
      • Carries sensory input to the to CNS
      • Carries motor output from CNS to appropriate effector (gland/muscle)
functional classification
Functional Classification
  • Only applies to peripheral nervous system
  • Two sub-divisions
    • Sensory (afferent): Conveys impulses from sensory receptors to CNS
      • Somatic sensory fibers: from skin, skeletal muscles & joints
      • Visceral sensory fibers: from visceral organs
    • Motor (efferent):Carries impulses from CNS to effector organs, muscles & glands & effect a motor response
      • Somatic (voluntary): allows conscious or voluntary control of skeletal muscles; reflexes are initiated involuntarily by same fibers
      • Autonomic (involuntary): regulates involuntary events of smooth muscle, cardiac muscle & glands
        • Sympathetic: Mobilizes body systems during emergency (speed up)
        • Parasympathetic: Conserves energy & promotes non-emergent function
nervous tissue supporting cells
Nervous Tissue: Supporting Cells
  • CNS supporting cells are categorized as neurologia, (“nerve glue”) or simply glia
    • 4 main categories
      • Astrocytes
      • Microglial cells
      • Ependymal cells
      • Oligodendrocytes
    • support, insulate & protect the neurons:
  • PNS supporting cells are either Schwann cells or satellite cells
neuroglia astrocytes
Neuroglia: Astrocytes
  • Account for nearly half of the neural tissue
  • “star” shaped - numerous projections with swollen ends that cling to neurons anchoring them to capillaries; help mediate exchange between the two
  • Help control chemical environment in the brain
    • Pick up excess ions
    • Recapture released neurotransmitters
neuroglia microglial cells
Neuroglia: Microglial Cells
  • Spiderlike phagocytes
  • Dispose of debris
    • Dead brain cells
    • Bacteria
neuroglia ependymal cells
Neuroglia: Ependymal Cells
  • Lines the cavities of the brain and spinal cord
  • Beating of their cilia helps circulate cerebrospinal fluid within the cavities to form a protective cushion
neuroglia oligodendrocytes
Neuroglia: Oligodendrocytes
  • Wrap flat extensions tightly around nerve fibers
  • Produce fatty insulating covers around nerve cells called myelin sheath
schwann cells
Schwann Cells

Form myelin sheaths of around nerve fibers of the PNS

satellite cells
Satellite Cells

Act as protective, cushioning cells

neuron anatomy
Neuron Anatomy
  • Cell body contains nucleus & metabolic center
  • Dendritesconduct impulses toward the cell body
  • Axons transmit impulses away from cell body
      • Axons branch into many axon terminals at the end
      • When impulses reach end of axon terminals they stimulate the release of neurotransmitters into the extracellular space
  • Synaptic clefts separate axon terminals of one neuron from dendrites of the next
  • Myelin protects & insulates nerve fibers and increases transmission rate
  • Gaps in myelin, called nodes of Ranvier, exist at regular intervals b/c myelin is formed from individual Schwann cells
cns myelin v pns myelin
CNS Myelin v. PNS Myelin
  • PNS myelin is formed from Schwann cells and CNS myelin is formed from oligodendrocytes
  • Oligodendrocytes can coil around 60 fibers simultaneously and the sheaths they form lack a neurilemma (outer cytoplasmic layer of cells)
  • The neurilemma remains mostly intact when neurons are damaged and plays a large role in fiber regeneration, which is essentially absent in the CNS.
comparing neurons cns v pns
Comparing Neurons: CNS v. PNS
  • In the CNS:
    • cell bodies are found in clusters called nuclei within bony skull or vertebral column
    • Bundles of nerve fibers (neuron processes) are tracts
    • White matter refers to myelinated regions (carry messages) and gray matter refers to unmyelinated regions (carry nutrients & convert glucose to energy)
  • In the PNS:
    • small collections of cell bodies called ganglia may be found
    • Bundles of nerve fibers are called tracts
functional classification of neurons
Functional Classification of Neurons
  • Neurons are grouped according to the direction the impulse is traveling relative to the CNS
  • Sensory (afferent) neurons:
    • Always found in ganglia outside CNS
    • Dendrite endings usually associated with specialized receptors
  • Interneurons:
    • Connect motor & sensory neurons
    • Cell bodies are always in CNS
  • Motor (efferent) neurons:
    • Carry impulses from CNS to viscera, muscles, glands
    • Cell bodies always in CNS
structural classification of neurons
Structural Classification of Neurons
  • Based on number of processes extending from the cell body
  • Multipolar: several processes
    • Most common structural type
    • Includes all moter and association neurons
  • Bipolar: two processes (axon and dendrite)
    • Rare in adults
    • Act as sensory receptors in special sense organs (eye & ear)
  • Unipolar: single process
    • Very short process; divides almost immediately into proximal (central) and distal (peripheral) fibers
    • Only small branches at the end of peripheral fibers are dendrites, the rest function as axons and therefore carry impulese both toward and away from cell body
functional properties of neurons
Functional Properties of Neurons
  • Irritability: Ability to respond to stimulus and convert it to a nerve impulse
  • Conductivity: Ability to transmit impulses to other neurons, muscles or glands
the nerve impulse polarization
The Nerve Impulse: Polarization
  • Resting neurons have a polarized membrane
    • Fewer positive ions inside the plasma membrane then in the surrounding tissue fluid
    • Major internal ion is K+, major external ion is Na+
    • As long as internal environment is relatively negative, neuron will stay inactive
the nerve impulse depolarization
The Nerve Impulse: Depolarization
  • Neural response to stimuli is always the same
    • Permeability of plasma membrane changes briefly
    • Normally it is virtually impermeable to sodium
    • Adequate stimulus causes “sodium gates” to open
    • Sodium will rush into the neuron along its concentration gradient
  • Polarity of cell membrane is temporarily changed; inside is now more positive and the cell is in a depolarized state
  • This activates the neuron to transmit an action potential or nerve impulse
  • Nerve impulses are an “all or none” response
the nerve impulse repolarization
The Nerve Impulse: Repolarization
  • Membrane almost immediately becomes impermeable to sodium again
  • Potassium ions rapidly diffuse out of the neuron into the the tissue space, restoring the electrical conditions of the resting state
  • The neuron is now repolarized and initial sodium and potassium concentrations are restored by the Na/K pump
nerve impulses along myelinated fibers
Nerve Impulses Along Myelinated Fibers
  • Fibers that have myelin sheaths conduct impulses much faster because the nerve impulse literally jumps from node to node along the length of the fiber; “saltatory conduction”
  • No current can flow along the axonal membrane where there is no fatty insulation

While an action potential is occurring, the sodium channels are open or recovering and another action potential definitely cannot occur. This is often referred to as absolute refractory period.

  • During hyperpolarization, the postassium channels are also open. Action potentials are more difficult to generate than at resting potential thus making this the relative refractory period.
rate of nerve impulses
Rate of Nerve Impulses
  • Myelin: myelin increases rate of impulse
    • Continuous conduction: action potentials are generated continuously along the axon
    • Saltatory conduction: APs jump from node to node
  • Axon diameter: larger diameter = faster impulses
    • Type A: Largest diameter & thick myelin (150m/s)
    • Type B: lightly myelinated, intermediate diameter (15 m/s)
    • Type C: smallest diameter and unmyelinated ((1m/s)
neural communication at synapses
Neural Communication at Synapses
  • When the action potential reaches the axonal endings, the axon terminals release chemicals called neurotransmitters
  • These neurotransmitters diffuses across the synapse and bind to receptors on the membrane of the next neuron
  • If enough neurotransmitter is released a nerve impulse will occur.
post synaptic potentials
Post-Synaptic Potentials
  • Neurotransmitter synapses are categorized according to how they affect the post-synaptic neuron, excitatory or) inhibitory
  • EPSPs (excitatory post-synaptic potentials) open both Na+ and K channels resulting in a net depolarization. This doesn’t generate an action potential but helps trigger one at the axonal hillok.
  • IPSPs induce hyperpolarization by making the membrane more permeable to K+ or Cl-. This makes the inside more negative and threshold harder to reach.
factors that impair nerve impulses
Factors that Impair Nerve Impulses
  • Alcohol, sedatives and anesthetics block nerve impulses by reducing membrane permeability to sodium ions
    • If sodium cannot enter an action potential cannot occur
  • Cold or continuous pressure interrupt blood circulation therefore reducing oxygen and nutrient delivery to neurons
    • Warming or removal of pressure results in a surge of impulses and the uncomfortable ‘prickly’ feeling.