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Introduction to Physiology of the Nervous System

Dr Fawzia Alrouq
Physiology Department , College of Medicine , King Saud University , Riyadh

The Nervous System


A network of billions of nerve cells linked together in a highly organized fashion to form the rapid control center of the body. Functions include:
Integrating center for homeostasis, movement, and almost all other body functions.

Basic Functions of the Nervous System


1. Sensation
Monitors changes/events occurring in and outside the body. Such changes are known as stimuli and the cells that monitor them are receptors.

2. Integration
The parallel processing and interpretation of sensory information to determine the appropriate response

3. Reaction
Motor output.
The activation of muscles or glands (typically via the release of neurotransmitters (NTs))

Nervous vs. Endocrine System


Similarities:
They both monitor stimuli and react so as to maintain homeostasis.

Differences:
The Nervous System is a rapid, fast-acting system whose effects do not always persevere. The Endocrine System acts slower (via bloodborne chemical signals called Hormons and its actions are usually much longer lasting.

Organization of the Nervous System


2 big initial divisions:
1. Central Nervous System
The brain + the spinal cord
The center of integration and control

2. Peripheral Nervous System


The nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord

Nervous system organization

fig 6-37

Classification of the Nervous System


The nervous system ( NS) can be classified in more than one way : (I) Central & Peripheral NS (A) Central Nervous System (CNS) : consisting of the brain and spinal cord , and (B) Peripheral Nervous System (PNS ) : Fibers outside the CNS (II) Sensory & Motor NS (A) Sensory : includes (i) sensory ( afferent ) fibers , ascending ( sensory ) pathways , & brain sensory centers (B) Motor : includes brain motor centers , descending (motor ) pathways & motor ( efferent ) fibers . (III) Somatic & Autonomic NS (A) Somatic ( Voluntary) Nervous System (B) Autonomic ( Inovluntary) Nervous System
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1.

Nervous Tissue
Highly cellular 2 cell types
1. Neurons
Functional, signal conducting cells Supporting cells
2.

2. Neuroglia

The functional and structural unit of the nervous system Specialized to conduct information from one part of the body to another There are many, many different types of neurons but most have certain structural and functional characteristics in common:
- Cell body (soma) - One or more specialized, slender processes (axons/dendrites) - An input region (dendrites/soma) - A conducting component (axon) - A secretory (output) region (axon terminal)

Neurons

Overview of the Brain

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Components of The Brain


A/ Telencephalon
(1) Cerebrum and (2) Basal Ganglia ( collection of grey matter situated inside the cerebral hemispheres )

B/ Diencephalon
Mainly : (1) Thalamus ( mainly a relay station for sensory pathways in their way to the cerebral cortex ) (2) Hypothalamus ( contains cesnter for autonomic and endocrine control )
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C/ Brainstem
(1) Midbrain (2) Pons (3) Medulla

E/ Cerebellum

The Brainstem
The term brainstem is actually an anatomic rather than physiologic term , because it is easier , in terms of anatomy , to group all CNS structures that hang between the cerebrum and spinal cord together . However , in terms of Physiology , the situation is more complicated , because brainstem structures are involved in many diverse & different bodily functions .

These functions include (1) regulation of Consciousness , Wakefulness & Sleep , (2) Respiratory , Cardiovascular and Gastrintestinal control , (3) Balance ( Vestibular nuclei ) . (4) Moreover , it contain several Cranial Nerve nuclei . 12 ,

Cerebrum
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The Cerebrum : Composed of 2 Cerebral Hemispheres , each of which controls functions on the opposite half of the body

Each hemisphere is divided by big Sulci ( fissures ) into 4 lobes :


Parietal lobe

Occipital lobe Temporal lobe Frontal lobe

Occiptal Lobe
Contains primary visual Cotrex + Visual AssociationCortex Disease : blindness

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Parietal Lobe
     Contains (1) Primary Somatosensory in the post-central gyrus to receive general sensations from opposite ( contralateral ) half of the body (2) Sensory Association Cortex ( for integration & association of sensory information ) Parietal lobe is essential for our feeling of touch, warmth/heat , cold, pain , body position and appreciation of shapes of palpated objects . When damaged , the person loses the ability to recognize shapes of complex objects by palpation (palpation = examaination of objects by touch ) . & develops Sensory Inattention on opposite side

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Temporal Lobe
(1) contain centers for hearing and taste , (2) contribute to smell perception . (3) essential for memory function . (4) lesion may lead to memory impairment & can be associated with temporal lobe epilepsy

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Frontal Lobe
Responsible for initiation and execution of voluntary movement . Also contains Brocas area of speech in the dominnat hemisphere ( i.e., in the left hemisphere in most people ) . Lesion can cause (1) paralysis on opposite side of the body , (2) aphasia ( loss of ability to speak ) if lesion involves Brocas area in the dominant hemisphere ) .
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Cerebellum

Important for ccordination of body movements and balance . Diseases can result in inccordination of movement and ataxia .

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Functions of Cerebrum Lobes


Frontal contains voluntary motor functions and areas for planning, mood, smell and social judgement Parietal contains areas for sensory reception & integration of sensory information Occipital is visual center of brain Temporal contains areas for hearing, smell, learning, memory, emotional behavior Can make a drawing on your hand

Meninges
Dura mater -- outermost, tough membrane
Closest to bone

Arachnoid mater is spider web filamentous layer Pia mater is a thin vascular layer adherent to contours of brain

Cerebrospinal Fluid
Clear liquid fills ventricles and canals & bathes its external surface (in subarachnoid space) Brain produces & absorbs about 500 ml/day
- produced by ependymal cells lining the ventricles filtration of blood through choroid plexus

Functions
buoyancy -- floats brain so it neutrally buoyant protection -- cushions from hitting inside of skull chemica l stability -- rinses away wastes. Buoyancy (voevcee)

Spinal Cord and Spinal Nerves


The spinal cord is generally cylindrical in shape From it emerge 31 pairs of spinal nerves: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 1 coccygeal.

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 The spinal cord , beside carrying sensory ( ascending ) and motor ( descending ) tracts ,  Also contains the centers of Spinal Reflexes

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Nervous system organization

fig 6-37

Spinal Tracts

Peripheral nervous system: efferent division (motor system)

fig 6-43

Somatic: single neuron, innervates skeletal muscle, voluntary control Autonomic: 2 neuron chain, innervates smooth, cardiac muscle, glands, largely involuntary control

Sensory System

Components of Sensory System


Receptors Peripheral nerves Spinal cord Tracts Thalamus Thalamocortical projection Somatosensory cortex

How information about internal & external environment reaches the CNS?

Via sensors i.e., Receptors that are connected to the CNS by different cables [i.e., ascending tracts].

Classification of receptors
Cutaneous

receptors
Mechanoreceptors: Thermoreceptors nociceptors

Musculosk eletal receptors proprioce ptors

Visceral receptors e.g., chemorecep tors, baroceptors, mechanorec eptors

Sensory Sensory Pathways pathways

DORSAL COLUMN ANTEROLATERAL PATHWAY PATHWAY CARRIES FINE CARRIES PAIN & TOUCH, TEMPRATURE POSITION, (lateral PRESSURE, Spinothalamic VIBRATION, tract) TWO POINT CRUDE TOUCH & DESRIMINATION PRESSURE ( stereognosis VENTeral. Sp. Th)

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