* The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body
* The nervous system has 2 subsystems: The central and peripheral nervous system.
* The central nervous system of vertebrates contains the brain, spinal cord, and retina.
* The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory neurons, clusters of neurons called ganglia, and nerves connecting them to each other and to the central nervous system.
* Neurons send signals to other cells as electrochemical waves travelling along thin fibers called axons, which cause chemicals called neurotransmitters to be released at junctions called synapses.
* Sensory neurons are activated by physical stimuli impinging on them, and send signals that inform the central nervous system of the state of the body and the external environment.
* Motor neurons, situated either in the central nervous system or in peripheral ganglia, connect the nervous system to muscles or other effector organs.
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* Central neurons, which in vertebrates greatly outnumber the other types, make all of their input and output connections with other neurons.
* Along with neurons, the nervous system contains other specialized cells called glial cells (or simply glia), which provide structural and metabolic support.
* The brain is made of three main parts: the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain.
* The forebrain consists of the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus (part of the limbic system).
* The midbrain consists of the tectum and tegmentum.
* The hindbrain is made of the cerebellum, pons and medulla. Often the midbrain, pons, and medulla are referred to together as the brainstem.
* The cerebrum or cortex is the largest part of the human brain, associated with higher brain function such as thought and action.
* The cerebral cortex is divided into four sections, called “lobes”: the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe.
* A deep furrow divides the cerebrum into two halves, known as the left and right hemispheres. The two hemispheres look mostly symmetrical yet it has been shown that each side functions slightly different than the other.
* The corpus callosum is a bundle of axons which connects these two hemispheres.
* The cerebellum, or “little brain”, is similar to the cerebrum in that it has two hemispheres and has a highly folded surface or cortex. This structure is associated with regulation and coordination of movement, posture, and balance.
* The limbic system, often referred to as the “emotional brain”, is found buried within the cerebrum. Like the cerebellum, evolutionarily the structure is rather old.
* The brain stem is responsible for basic vital life functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure.
* The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain (the medulla oblongata specifically).
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* The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS).
* The spinal cord is around 45 cm (18 in) in men and around 43 cm (17 in) long in women.
* The spinal cord functions primarily in the transmission of neural signals between the brain and the rest of the body but also contains neural circuits that can independently control numerous reflexes and central pattern generators.
* The spinal cord has three major functions: as a conduit for motor information, which travels down the spinal cord, as a conduit for sensory information in the reverse direction, and finally as a center for coordinating certain reflexes.
The spinal cord is protected by three layers of tissue, called spinal meninges, that surround the canal.
The dura mater is the outermost layer, and it forms a tough protective coating.
Between the dura mater and the surrounding bone of the vertebrae is a space called the epidural space.
The epidural space is filled with adipose tissue, and it contains a network of blood vessels.
The arachnoid mater is the middle protective layer. Its name comes from the fact that the tissue has a spiderweb-like appearance.
The space between the arachnoid and the underlyng pia mater is called the subarachnoid space.
The subarachnoid space contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
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The medical procedure known as a lumbar puncture (or spinal tap) involves use of a needle to withdraw cerebrospinal fluid from the subarachnoid space, usually from the lumbar region of the spine.
The pia mater is the innermost protective layer. It is very delicate and it is tightly associated with the surface of the spinal cord. The cord is stabilized within the dura mater by the connecting denticulate ligaments, which extend from the enveloping pia mater laterally between the dorsal and ventral roots.
The dural sac ends at the vertebral level of the second sacral vertebra.
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