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An Introduction to the Brain and Nervous System

We all know that we have a brain and a nervous system but most of us as adults, do not remember much about our high school basic biology class to even have the most simplistic idea about it. Here is a an attempt to bring you up to speed on the basics!

The Brain and Nervous System make up the communication network of the body. It allows us to gather information, decipher it and then create a response. These roles of the nervous system are organized into three separate categories. They are the sensory, integrative and motor function categories.

1. Sensory Function: This allows us to gather information on changes in both our internal and external environment.

2. Integrative Function: The ability of the nervous system to assimilate and decipher information in order to generate an appropriate response.

3. Motor Function: The appropriate response based on our sensory information input.

This sounds great on paper but how does it really work in the reality of life. Here are a few examples of this process in action. Let's say you are driving in your car down the road on a hot summer day with the intention of getting from your home to the grocery store. Along the way you need to turn left onto another street to head in the correct direction of the grocery store. As you see a street up ahead (Sensory function), you recognize that it is the street that takes you to the store (Integrative function), and then you automatically trigger the left turn blinker (Motor function). You now proceed down the road into the parking lot. As you enter the parking lot to the store you see several parking spaces that you might park in (Sensory function). You notice that one parking space seems to be in the shade (Integrative function) and you turn the steering wheel and bring the car to a stop in the shady parking space (Motor function).

You proceed into the grocery store with your list of grocery items to purchase. You look at the first item on the list (Sensory function) and of course it is something yummy like ice cream!!!!! You recall that the freezer section in the store is in the back (Integrative function) and you head to the freezer section (Motor function)!! This process continues until you have finished shopping. It continues to as you pull out of your parking space and safely return home. Your brain is making thousands of choices per minute, without your conscious awareness. It is a never-ending process!!!

Nervous System Divisions – The Nervous System is divided into two interdependent aspects. These are the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System. The Central Nervous System consists of the brain and spinal cord . The Peripheral Nervous System is responsible for both sensory/afferent and motor/efferent neural transmissions to the rest of the body.

Central Nervous System: Brain and Spinal Cord

The brain rests in and is protected by the skull and the spinal cord is runs through the vertebral bodies of the spine. The spinal cord extends to the second lumbar vertebra, generally the height of the navel, where the spinal cord breaks into several individual nerves that travel from the second lumbar vertebra to the fifth sacral vertebra. These individual nerves branch out and are known as the Cauda Equina or "the horse tail".

Cerebrospinal fluid is the lubricant, shock absorber and supplier of nutrients to the brain and spinal cord. It flows between the brain tissue and the bones of the skull and up and down the central canal of the vertebral bodies where the spinal cord is located.