Sunday, 2 June 2013

Nervous system - brief overview

The Nervous system

The nervous system is divided into 2 parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Beginning with the central nervous system, this system consists of the brain and spinal cord.

- The brain stem relays information to and from the spinal cord.

- The cerebellum helps control motor movements when learning new motor skills. The cerebellum corrects for mistakes when learning new skills, e.g. if you are playing basketball for the first time and are trying to shoot for the hoop but aim too far to the right, the cerebellum is involved in correcting for this and next time you shoot from the same position you will aim a little to the left to compensate.

- The frontal lobe plans actions and controls movement, it sends a lot of information through the spinal cord in order to bring about movement. Different parts of the frontal lobe control different parts of the body. Where these parts of the body are in relation to each other are reflected in the way the regions of the frontal lobe that control these components are located. If you consider that your feet are at the bottom of your body and knees / legs are above this and so on, there is the same structure to the frontal cortex in that the region controlling the feet is at the bottom of the frontal cortex etc.

- The parietal lobe is beside the frontal lobe. The part of the parietal lobe that retrieves sensory touch information from external stimuli is located right beside the region of the frontal lobe that is involved in motor control. More sensitive areas such as fingertips are represented by larger areas within the parietal lobe compared to less sensitive areas.

- The temporal lobe, which is located beside the temples, receives auditory input. Parts of the temporal lobe are also important for memory formation.

- Occipital lobe - this is responsible for processing visual information.

- The peripheral nervous system has all of the motor nerves and sensory nerves that are outside of the spinal cord e.g. nerves that sense touch or heat. The peripheral nervous system also controls some functions automatically such as digestion / heartbeat and breathing.

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