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The Functions and Responses of the Nervous System

of Bufo sp. Exposed in Different Environment

Aduna, Naomi Bless S.
Department of Biology, College of Science, Polytechnic University of the Philippines

The nervous system has a communication network of neurons that allows the organism to
interact with the environment both external and internal (Komal and Nashmi 2015). It is also
responsible for adaptation to changes such as maintenance of homeostasis and survival. It has
two subdivisions, the CNS and PNS. The CNS consists of the brain and the spinal cord, while
the PNS consists of motor portions (autonomic and somatic motor neurons) which transmits
information from periphery to the central nervous system and vice versa (Louveau et al., 2015).
For the activity, Bufo sp. was used. It was exposed to different environment where they received
different stimuli. The nerve responses of the animal in the normal condition were observed. After
the first testing, single pithing (ruptured brain) and double pithing (ruptured brain and spinal cord)
were performed consecutively. The animal was then again exposed to the same environments
used on the first procedure. The responses of Bufo sp. was also observed and recorded. The
sciatic nerve of the animal was also isolated and was observed under the microscope.
From the results obtained, it was observed that when single pithing was performed where the
brain is severed, the sensory responses of the animal was impaired. The frog was almost
unresponsive, except for the heart which only slowed in pulsation. On the second pithing
performed which is double pithing, the brain and the spinal cord where severed. The animal
completely loss its sensation and muscle control because the spinal cord was damaged. Its
muscle became firm which were supposed to be flaccid when brain and spinal cord was normal.
When these two were injured or destroyed, the whole system of the body shuts down.
Keywords: sensation, motor neurons, CNS, PNS, body response, stimuli


The nervous system allows us to

perceive, comprehend, and respond to the
world around us. The nervous system also
operates the bodys essential physiologic
functions, such as breathing, digestion, and
other body processes. The nervous system
has a communication network of neurons
that allows the organism to interact with the
environment both external and internal
(Komal and Nashmi 2015). Its main function
is the regulation of body functions. It is also

responsible for adaptation to changes such

as maintenance of homeostasis and
survival. The nervous system is divided into
two: Central Nervous System (CNS) and the
Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The
parts of CNS are the brain and spinal cord.
While the PNS contains motor portions
(autonomic and somatic motor neurons)
which transmits information from periphery
to the central nervous system and vice versa
(Louveau et al., 2015).

The brain is further divided into two

subdivisions, the cortical and subcortical
level. The cortical level controls voluntary
functions and it is the site of cognitive or
higher functions such as memory, learning
and thinking. It also control lower levels of
the CNS. The subcortical part of the brain is
responsible for controlling involuntary and
subconscious functions and emotions. The
other subdivision of CNS is the spinal cord.
The spinal cord conducts information to the
brain and conducts motor information to the
effector organs. It serves as a simple
regulatory center (Hicks et al., 1997).
Several studies try to demonstrate
what the possible consequences are when
the brain or the spinal cord ruptured or had
been damaged. In the activity, the effects of
ruptured or damaged CNS will be
demonstrated using different nerve stimuli.
The activity aims to observe nerve
tissues on the body and the importance of
central nervous system in creating proper
response to the stimulus that an organism


A. Central Nervous System

For the activity, Bufo sp., a species of
toad was used. The amphibian was used to
demonstrate body response when exposed
to different environment and received
different stimuli. The species was observed
on nine different environments. The toads
responses to each situation were recorded.

Single Pithing
After the first procedure was finished,
the animal undergone single pithing to
rupture or injure its brain. A probe was
inserted down on the midline of the head,
over a bump (as a reference point) which is
the occipital process until it came to the soft
spot of the foramen magnum. The probe was
moved from side to side to sever the brain.
The same procedure was repeated. It was
exposed to different environment. The
observations were recorded.
Double Pithing
After recording all the observations on
the animal with damaged brain, double
pithing was performed. The probe was
inserted downward towards the body of the
toad. The spinal cord and the brain of the
Bufo sp. was destroyed. The responses of
the animal to the same stimuli received from
being exposed to different environment were

B. Sciatic Nerve Histology (PNS)

The skin from the legs was removed by

making an incision through the skin and
around the entire lower abdomen. The
connections between the skin and the body
were cut, especially around the base of the
pelvic girdle. Stout forceps was used to pull
the skin off the frog in one piece (like a pair
of pants). Then the muscle of the thigh were
separated. The muscles were surrounded by
connective tissue called fascia, and the large
medial and lateral muscles on the dorsal
side of the upper leg were joined to each
other by a fusion of their fascia along a thin
"white line". The muscle groups on either
side of the "white line" were grabbed with
forceps, and was firmly pulled the muscle
groups apart. The muscles were pinned

apart so that more underlying muscle was

visible. The nerve was removed from the
surrounding tissue by lifting the nerve gently
by the suture thread and any muscle or
connective tissue attaching the nerve to the
body were cut. The muscles of the pelvis
were carefully separated to expose the
Sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve enters the
abdomen of the frog through an opening at
the end of the urostyle, a bone that forms
part of the pelvis.


Table 1. Body response of Bufo sp. exposed in

different environment

The overall goal of the nervous system

is to regulate the operations of parts of the
body to make sure they contribute to
homeostasis and survival. The nervous
system regulates muscles and glands
directly by sending impulses to those
structures. Many of the neurons in the brain

and nerves monitor conditions in and around

the body. These neurons do very little if
conditions are proper and fairly stable.
However, they are affected by harmful
conditions and are sensitive to any change
in conditions.The table above shows the

response of Bufo sp. to different stimuli


Based on the data obtained, it was found

out that the Bufo sp., an amphibian,
constantly lost body response when single
and double pithing were performed. All
stopped except for the heart. When both the
brain and the spinal cord were severed, the
animal which was exposed to different
environment as shown on the table did not
have the same rapid response as when the
animal havent undergone pithing.
The first pithing (single pithing)
caused the brain to be injured. The toad was
paralyzed because its central nervous
system was damaged. The CNS controls the
bodys sensation (Sight, hearing, taste,
smell, and touch), the voluntary and
involuntary functions, such as movement,
balance, and coordination (Komal and
Nashmi, 2015). The nervous system also
regulates the actions of most other body
systems, such as blood flow and blood
pressure. That is why the decrease of the
heart rate of the frog was quite observable
when brain was ruptured.
The sensory organs of the body
transmit signals to the CNS that will then
create a response. When the toad was
exposed to loud noise, toes were pinched,
eyes were touch, and foot placed in hot
water, it exhibited rapid or quick response.
The following stimulus performed were
perceived by the sensory organs of the body
which were sent to the CNS and were
processed, but shortly after single pithing
was performed, the sensation of the body
was not working. As mentioned earlier, the
sensation is controlled by the CNS. Thus, it
also affected the ability of the body to
recognize the environment. After interpreting

sensory input, the brain generates neural

impulses that flow through the nervous
system to other parts of the body. These
impulses, carried by motor neurons, allow us
to respond to input from the environment.
Some responses are voluntary. Other
responses are involuntary (Schnell et al.,
1999). Both types of motor responses
require interpretation of sensory input and
regulation of motor output; however, the
parts of the brain involved are different. The
cerebrum initiates voluntary movement,
while the cerebellum coordinates and
smoothens out our movements. Regions of
both the cerebrum and the cerebellum work
together to regulate involuntary responses.
In addition, while the CNS generates
information to regulate both voluntary and
involuntary responses, the PNS delivers that
information to the appropriate parts of the
body (Shapira et al., 1993).
After the double pithing was
performed, the brain and the spinal cord
were completely damaged. Damage of the
spinal cord breaks down the connection
between periphery and higher centers.
Information is delivered into the spinal cord
through the axon terminals of sensory
neurons (Tanno et al., 1992). Once in the
spinal cord, the information may flow to
motor neurons, to interneurons that pass it
directly to motor neurons, or to interneurons
that transmit the information to the brain.
After the brain and spinal cord of Bufo sp.
was severed, the heart was the only organ
left functioning.
The spinal cord carries out two major
activities: generating simple behaviors and
transferring information. The response
generated by the spinal cord is a reflex: an
automatic, involuntary response to a sensory
input, such as withdrawing from a hot stove.
Some reflex pathways (a set of nerves that
relay a particular message) are relatively

simple. This explains the rapid response of

the toad when its toes were placed in hot
water. In the simplest reflex pathways, a
motor neuron connects directly to a sensory
Another role of the spinal cord is to
relay information between the brain and the
peripheral nervous system. Information, in
the form of nerve impulses, reaches the
spinal cord through sensory neurons of the
PNS. These impulses are transmitted to the
brain through the interneurons of the spinal
cord. Finally, response signals generated in
the motor areas of the brain travel down the
spinal cord through other interneurons and
move to the body in the axons of spinal
motor neurons. The spinal cord is thus
responsible for mediating all information flow
between the body and the brain. Injuries to
the spinal cord result in a loss of
responsiveness below the injury. This loss is
not due to an inability of the muscle to
function, but to the inability to relay
messages between the body and the brain.

There is also an explanation on why

the heart still beats even an individual is
brain-dead. The heart follows a pattern
different than most muscles in the body. The
beating of the heart itself is not regulated by
the brain, but actually within the heart itself.
The only function of the brain is tell the heart
how fast it needs to beat. Nerve cells within
the heart continue firing for an extended
period of time, promoting the process of
beating. For this reason, a heart that is
removed from the body doesn't stop beating
instantly. As long as it has enough ATP to
provide energy and exposure to oxygen, it
can beat without any regulation from a brain
(Arteyeva et al., 2015). Cardiac cells are
different from skeletal cells in such a way
that it has more than one mitochondria for

each cell which synthesize ATP, so as long

as energy is present in the cells of the heart
it will continue beating (Tsvetkova et al.,

B. Frog Sciatic Nerve Histology

Sciatic nerve, the largest nerve of the

sacral plexus that belongs to the peripheral
nervous system (PNS) is actually two nerves
wrapped in one sheath: (1) tibial nerve which
innervates posterior thigh, posterior leg
(lower leg), and intrinsic muscles of the foot;
and (2) peroneal nerve which innervates
muscles of the anterolateral leg (lower leg).

Fig 1. Sciatic Nerve under microscope.

Diameter of Sciatic Nerve:

Squashed sciatic nerve:


5m X 4= 20 m


4m x 4= 16 m


9.7 m


0.2 m

The sciatic nerve is the dominant nerve

that innervates the lower back and the lower
extremities. It travels from the lower spine,
through the pelvis, and down each leg. It is
the longest and widest nerve in the human
body (Gong et al., 2015). The sciatic nerve
primarily supplies the muscles of the lower
leg, including the calf, ankle, and the back
portion of the knee. It also supplies
sensation to the sole of the foot, the ankle,
the entire lower leg, and the back of the

The sciatic nerve branches into different

parts of the body along its path, hence its
ability to supply such a large area of the
body. It is a mixed-function nerve, meaning
that it contains both sensory neurons and
motor neurons. This means that it
simultaneously enables muscles to feel and
to move (He et al., 2012).

Damage to the sciatic nerve can result in

numerous symptoms, including lower back
pain, muscle weakness and reflex
abnormalities. Although it can be damaged
anywhere, symptoms are usually present in
the lower leg, such as an inability to bend the
knee, shooting pain from the buttocks to the
lower leg, or difficulty in rotating and bending
the foot.


The brain is important in the human body

because it allows a person to think, feel and
store memories, and it controls and
coordinates the bodys actions and. The
brain is an incredibly complex organ

composed of many parts. Spinal cord is also

important because without a spinal cord your
brain and the body couldnt communicate
with each other. The spinal cord is the
pathway for impulses from the body to the
brain, and from the brain to the body. These
impulses are different signals our brain
sends and receives from our bodies.
When these two were injured or
destroyed the whole system of the body
shuts down. The brain and spinal cord are
interconnected. When one is damaged, the
other ones function will also be also


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