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*Pathology of the Nervous System*

Updated on February 4, 2016

CNS

Nervous System - Pathology

The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord are protected by bony structures, membranes, and fluid. The brain is held in the cranial cavity of the skull and it consists of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and the brain stem. The nerves involved are cranial nerves and spinal nerves. The central nervous system (CNS) represents the largest part of the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. Together, with the peripheral nervous system (PNS), it has a fundamental role in the control of behavior. The CNS is conceived as a system devoted to information processing, where an appropriate motor output is computed as a response to a sensory input. Many threads of research suggest that motor activity exists well before the maturation of the sensory systems, and senses only influence behavior without dictating it. This has brought the conception of the CNS as an autonomous system.

PNS - Peripheral Nervous System

The peripheral nervous system is subdivided into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system consists of nerves that go to the skin and muscles and is involved in conscious activities. The autonomic nervous system consists of nerves that connect the CNS to the visceral organs such as the heart, stomach, and intestines. It mediates unconscious activities.

The sensory division of the PNS carries all types of sensory information to the CNS, including that from the "special senses" of touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight, as well pain, body position, and a variety of other sensory information. Some of the information include: bladder fullness and stomach aches, for example, as well as much of which the body is not aware, including blood pressure or concentration of substances in the blood.

The autonomic nervous system consists of two main divisions, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. First, the sympathetics are primarily involved in responses that would be associated with 'fight or flight' response, such as increasing heart rate and blood pressure as well as constricting blood vessels in the skin and dilating them in muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand is involved in energy conservation functions and increases GI motility and secretion. It also increases bladder contractility.

Coordinating & Remembering

Making adjustments often requires the contributions of many parts of the body, and the nervous system must stimulate them so that they all work in harmony. At the same time, parts of the body that can interfere with achieving the desired outcome must be inhibited from acting. The nervous system provides these stimulations and inhibitions through its fourth main function: coordinating. For example, to walk to the kitchen, a person must activate some muscles while inhibiting others in order to step forward with one foot at a time.

When a person must adjust to a new situation, it may take quite a while for all the necessary impulses to reach their destinations, especially when the situation is complicated and the proper response requires the coordinated stimulation of many structures. Furthermore, sometimes mistakes are made and the wrong response occurs. This is when remembering, the fifth main function of the nervous system, becomes helpful. By remembering, the nervous system stores information about past experiences that includes the recollection of a situation, the responses that were made, and the degree of success that was provided by each response. Then, when faced with the same situation, a person can avoid trial and error by remembering what to do. This procedure saves time and prevents costly mistakes. Simple examples include remembering the way home after traveling the route a few times and an answer to a question for a test.

The Nervous System - CrashCourse Biology #26

Stress and The Nervous System

Ever had a lot of stress? How do you think that affects your Nervous system? Well the autonomic nervous system controls the heart, the blood vessels, and thus temperature-control and such actions as blushing, breathing, the digestive system and the guts, the filling of the bladder. It also controls such mundane and yet essential activities as sweating and salivation. Although this aspect of the nervous system is not under our control, its action may be determined by our state of mind and the thought process that goes through. The smooth running of the autonomic nervous system reflects the amount of stress someone is suffering, so any change that produces symptoms may be a measure of the tension in someone’s life. When people are over-tense, the nervous system is disturbed. Symptoms of tension include sweating too readily, blushing too easily, and rushing to the lavatory too often. Some people may even find that, when especially anxious, their voices are rasping and their tongues are dry.


Exercise and the Nervous System

Regular exercise decreases activity in your sympathetic system and increases activity in another part of the autonomic nervous system which is the parasympathetic nervous system. When you get involved in regular aerobic exercise, you reduce the stress load on your body in a number of ways, including lowering your blood pressure and levels of harmful LDL cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol), increasing your levels of helpful HDL cholesterol (Good Cholesterol) and improving your blood flow and basic heart function.

Many credits given to The Franklin Institute for their great research, it is stated that walking is good for the brain and the nervous system. The reason is because as you walk, your blood circulation is increased and more glucose and oxygen reach your brain. As walking is not a very strenuous activity, your leg muscles do not use extra oxygen and glucose as in other forms of more strenuous exercise. Also, as more blood flows to the brain it helps remove toxins and to improve concentration, learning ability and memory. Physical exercise can also protect your brain and prevent your mental capacities from deteriorating and dementia. According to a research, it is possible to train the neurological system by using repetitive exercises. This enables athletes to develop quicker reactions, balance and great coordination. The repetitive exercises can gradually be built on by adding new movements to your routine, allowing the athlete to build up a system of learned moves and skills.

Taking care of your Nervous System

It is important to take care of your nervous system and be able to follow certain rule to have a healthy and functioning nervous system. Here are some quick tips:

  • Monitor your eating patterns and make sure to eat semi-regularly
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes good levels of B-12 and D vitamins, as well as healthy fats
  • Avoid smoking and drinking excessive alcohol
  • Keep up with a solid sleep schedule, as sleep helps strengthen circuits within the nervous system which can help with memory
  • Exercise your nervous system and brain with games, puzzles or even board games
  • Maintain a healthy weight due to the fact that many conditions, such as diabetic neuropathy, are closely associated to obesity or overweight


If you have any concern and questions visit your MD or write a comment below. For emergency purposes visit the nearest ER or dial 911.

Thank you, M

Pathology of the Nervous System

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Pathology of the Nervous System

© 2016 Mahsa S

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    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      2 years ago

      Yes it's so great to keep our Nervous system healthy and functioning properly because it plays such an important role in our body. It's also great to know what happens during certain times like when we are stressed and how that impacts the nervous system and even other organs around it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for this lesson on the nervous system, lest we forget. Great that you include how to take care of this important part of our being.

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      2 years ago

      Yes I think that it's great to know what happens with our bodies and the different systems and organs this way we can take care of them much better.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is a great explanation of the nervous system, and helps me to understand what happens when I am overly stressed. Thanks!

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