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Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System


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Title: Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System

Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
Applied Learning Outcomes
  • Use the terminology associated with the nervous
  • Learn about the following
  • Different types of nervous system cells
  • Nervous system development
  • Nerve cell structure
  • Nerve cell function
  • Nerve cell physiology
  • Understand the biological basis of aging and
    pathology of nerve cell function

Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
The nervous system communicates critical
information between the various organ systems and
provides information about environmental
conditions to all internal organs. The nervous
system is best defined as a system of cells,
tissues, and organs that regulates the bodys
responses to internal and external stimuli.
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
The nervous system regulates the bodys response
to external stimuli- environmental factors
that influence metabolic changes in a cell or
physiological changes in tissues and
organs. internal stimuli-includes a variety of
cell secretions used to communicate information
about a cells jobs and needs.
The Nervous System
  • Starts out as a hollow neural tube of ectoderm.
  • Runs lengthwise along the back of fetus.
  • Forms stem cells--they form two main cell lines
  • of the nervous system
  • Neurons
  • Neuroglia
  • There is evidence of a third group of cells
  • Neural crest cells

The Cells of the Nervous System
  • Neurons
  • Are the operational component of the nervous
  • They are excitable cells
  • They receive, interpret, and transmit external
    and internal stimuli

The Cells of the Nervous System
  • Neuroglia
  • Are not directly involved in nervous system
  • They are supportive cells
  • Major job is to maintain the excitability and
    health of neurons.
  • Important for development and repair of nervous

The Cells of the Nervous System
  • Neural crest cells
  • Are derived from embryonic neural tube
  • They play a role in development of the nervous

The Cells of the Nervous System
  • The neurons and neuroglia cells start out with
    ability to communicate with each other.
  • Called bidirectional communication
  • Between neuroglial and neurons
  • Permits the formation and maintenance of the
    nervous system
  • Classification of cells----
  • Neurons by their cell anatomy and mode of
  • Neuroglia classified by how they assist nerve

  • Have four common features
  • Nerve cell body (soma) houses the nucleus and
    organelles needed to function
  • Dendrite (antennae) receive a majority of the
    stimuli that communicate with the neuron
  • Axon (long process) comes off the nerve cell body
    from a region called the axon hillock.
  • It transmits stimuli from the nerve cell body to
    the terminus
  • Terminus forms the end of the axon

Characteristics of Neurons
  • There is usually only one axon for each neuron.
  • Some axons have branches or collaterals.
  • Axon hillocks job- initiate the electrical
    signal that will be transmitted from axon to
    glands, muscles, and other neurons.
  • Terminus releases neurotransmitters to other
  • Cells must have neurotransmitter receptors to
    respond to neurotransmitters.

How do neurons communicate with other cells?
  • Neurons do not make direct contact with other
  • Ends of the terminus stop short of touching
    nearby cells.
  • Form a synapse---junction where an impulse is
    transmitted from one neuron to another.

How do neurons communicate with other cells?
  • Synaptic cleft---gap between the two cells
  • Presynaptic neuron--one whose terminus ends at
    the synaptic cleft.
  • It produces the neurotransmitter
  • Produces only one particular neurotransmitter
  • Postsynaptic neuron-- is the neuron on the
    receiving end
  • It receives the signal across a synapse
  • Contains the neurotransmitter receptors
  • Can contain a variety of neurotransmitter
  • This gives certain neurons the ability to respond
    in different
  • ways based on the neurotransmitter released.

How do neurons communicate with other cells?
  • Sensitivity of a postsynaptic neuron to a
    presynaptic neuron depends on the number of
    neurotransmitter receptors located around the
    synaptic cleft.
  • Neurons with less receptors are less sensitive.
  • Neurons can adjust the number of neurotransmitter

Morphine Addiction
  • Morphine mimics natural neurotransmitters
  • It alters the receptors in the brain
  • High levels of morphine stimulate pleasure
  • Long term morphine use --- the brain reduces the
    number of receptors to desensitize the neurons
    from the continuous stimulation.
  • Person develops an addiction to morphine because
    the body now needs it for the new level of normal
    receptor function.
  • Person needs more morphine to receive that same

Types of Nervous System Cells
The cells of the nervous system are neuroglia,
neurons, and neural crest cells. Neuroglia The
most common cells in the nervous system assist,
protect, and support neurons Neurons Excitable
cells that communicate information about the body
and the environment Neural Crest Cells Involved
in nervous system maintenance and healing
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
Neurons have three primary shapes
  • Unipolar--have a long axon that directly connects
    the dendrites to the terminus (dendrite and axon
    emerging from same process)
  • The nerve cell body is positioned to the side of
    the axon
  • Usually carry sensory information (sensory
  • Bipolar--one dendrite and one axon on opposite
    ends of cell body
  • Called interneurons
  • Multipolar--many dendrites that attach directly
    to the nerve cell body
  • Most numerous type of neuron in the body
  • Usually communicate information from the brain to
    glands and muscles
  • Called motor neurons

Unipolar or Sensory neuron
Multipolar or Motor neuron
Three primary shapes of neurons
Neuroglia and Stem Cells
  • Neuroglia cells
  • make up the bulk of the cell types in the
    nervous system
  • Most are found in the brain
  • Carry out crucial roles in regulating the
    environment of neurons
  • Have very high lipid content
  • This makes them shiny and white in appearance

Major types of neuroglia cells
  • Astrocytes or macroglia--- largest class of
  • Attach to neurons or form covers over small blood
  • Astrocytes associated with blood vessels control
    types of materials that pass from the blood to
    the neurons
  • Blood brain barrier- barrier between brain blood
    vessels and brain tissue that restricts the
    passage of materials from blood into brain.
  • Ependymal cells
  • Mainly secretory cells that line cavities of
    brain and spinal cords.
  • They produce cerebrospinal fluid
  • Microglia
  • Many carry out phagocytosis for protection
  • Migrate through CNS removing foreign matter
  • Other microglia produce secretions that maintain
    the health of neurons and assist neuron healing.

Major types of neuroglia cells
  • 4. Oligodendrites --large cells with numerous
    branching processes
  • that wrap around the axons of neurons
    to form an
  • insulating cover called the myelin
  • Myelin sheath made by oligodendrites limited to
    neurons in brain and spinal cord.
  • Facilitates transmission of stimul along axon
  • Radial glia --found in developing nervous system
  • Provides framework that organizes
    interconnections of neurons
  • Brain and eyes of adults --the radial cells carry
    on bidirectional communication with neurons. This
    means they communicate the needs of certain
  • Satellite cells-- very numerous small cells.
  • Cover surface of neurons outside of brain and
    spinal cord support neurons in PNS
  • Help maintain chemical environment of neurons and
    may assist with nerve cell repair.
  • Schwann cells-- form myelin sheath around PNC.
    neurons located outside of brain
  • and spinal cord.
  • Flattened cells almost completely cover axon
  • Slight gap between cells are called Nodes of

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Neural crest cells
  • A type of stem cells in adult humans
  • These cells spread out from brain of embryo
  • They migrate to various parts of the body
  • Embryos these cells assist with formation of
    nervous system
  • They can produce neuroglia, neurons, and other
    stem cells
  • Hoped these cells will be found around components
    of the nervous system in adults
  • Then they could be used to regenerate neuroglia
    and neurons destroyed by disease or injury

Neuron Physiology
Neurons communicate to other cells via
neurotransmitters Neurotransmitters can be
excitatory or inhibitory
Excitatory Stimulates a neuron Inhibitory
Hinders a neuron
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
The following events characterize the
transmission of a nerve impulse 1-Resting
potential- describes the unstimulated,
polarized state of a neuron. (charge inside the
cell is about -70millivolts) More Na on the
outside of the cell then the inside. More K
on the inside of the cell then the outside.
Cell is polarized.
  • 2- Action potential - In response to a stimulus
  • gated ion channels in the membrane open
  • This permits Na on the outside to rush into the
  • Cell membrane becomes depolarized, or more
  • positive on the inside.
  • If stimulus is strong enough (-55 mV above
    threshold level) more Nagates open, causing an
    action potential, or complete depolarization (now
    it is 30mV on the inside of the cell)
  • This causes Nagates to open down the length of
    the axon

3- Following depolarization across the length of
the neuron Na channels close and the K
channels open. Outflow of positive potassium
causes the negative value inside to increase
and neurons begin to repolarize back to resting
potential. 4-Repolarization-when Na is flowing
in another gated channel opens and allows K
to flow out of the cell. This restores the
original membrane polarization. Unlike the
resting potential, the Kare now on the
outside and the Na is on the inside of the cell.
A. Resting potential
B. C. Action potential
D. E. Repolarization
  • 5- Refractory Period-during this time the neuron
  • will not respond to a new stimulus.
  • the membrane is polarized but Naand K
  • are on the wrong side of the membrane.

6- Recovery phase a.To reestablish the original
distribution of these ions, Na and Kreturn to
their original location by the Na/K pumps in
the cell membrane. b. Once these ions are in
original place the neuron is ready to receive
another stimulus.
Speed of an action potential
Propagation of an action potential is fairly
slow. Speed accelerated by presence of myelin
sheath. Stops the action potential along the
axon except where axon is exposed. Action
potential is restricted to the nodes of Ranvier
Are chemical signals that transfer the action
potential from an affector (sensory neuron
receptor) to a motor neuron of the effector
(muscle or gland) Neurotransmitters can have
either an excitatory or inhibitory effect on
the postsynaptic neuron An excitatory
neurotransmitter helps a postsynaptic neuron
reach threshold, thereby making it more likely
to produce an action potential. Excitatory
neurotransmitters cause the sodium channels to
open Inhibitory neurotransmitters make it more
difficult for the neuron to achieve an action
Sequence of events when Neurotransmitters
communicate with other cells
  1. Synthesis and storage of neurotransmitters
  2. Neurotransmitter release occurs as calcium rushes
    into terminus
  3. Neurotransmitter binding to postsynaptic
  4. Inactivation of neurotransmitters

Types of Neuron Communication p. 305-307
Reflexes are involuntary responses associated
with survival.
The path of information the reflex arc is as
follows affector ? sensory neuron ? interneuron
? motor neuron ? effector
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
Reflexes --involuntary responses to a
stimulus --links a stimulus to a response
without requiring the intervention of
conscious control --example putting hands out
to catch yourself if you are about to
fall Reflex arc --neuron arrangement --involvin
g an affector (sensory neuron receptor), a
sensory neuron, an interneuron, a motor neuron,
and an effector (a gland or muscle).
Pathology of Nervous System Function
  • How can the nervous system be affected?
  • Infectious diseases caused by microorganisms
  • Degenerative progressive deterioration of a cell
    or tissue over time
  • Congential born with it, diseases caused by
    embryological and
  • maturation errors that affect the nervous
  • Toxicological damage caused by poisons that
    affect cell
  • metabolism or communication.
  • 5. Traumatic injuries resulting from a wound
    that was caused by an
  • external force or violence.

Neurological Diseases
Infectious Bacteria that release their toxins
into the blood cause the most common type of
damage. Bacteria that enter through food or
wounds also can affect the nervous
system. Botulism a bacterium that sometimes
grows in spoiled food ---This bacteria
blocks the action of acetylcholine.
Causes flaccid paralysis, or inability of
muscles to contract. Tetanus a
bacterium that produces a secretion that
enhances the effects of acetylcholine.
---This disease prevents the muscles from
relaxing following contractions
Neurological Diseases
Infectious diseases Endotoxins certain
bacteria release these poisons. They can cause
immediate death to the neuroglia and
neurons. Diseases they can cause Encephaliti
s (inflammation of the brain) Meningitis
(inflammation of the membranes
surrounding the brain and spinal
and spinal cord)
Neurological Diseases
Genetic degenerative disease of the nervous
system Amylotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
also known as Lou Gehrigs disease ---caused
by faulty mitochondria passed down by the egg
affects the motor neurons, causing gradual
cessation of muscle function. Multiple
Sclerosis (MS) --- Demyelination disease
results from loss of neuroglia around the axons
and bodies of neurons results in
slower neural impulses and eventual
degeneration of the axon.
Neurological Diseases
Congenital disorders Krabbes disease--lacks an
important enzyme that prevents the accumulation
of toxic wastes in nerve cells. Usually starts
out in the embryo and causes a build up of
harmful fats in the nervous system
cells. Hirschsprungs disease--nerve cells
normally grow in the intestines of a
developing fetus. With this disease the nerve
cells stop growing, causing a loss of
large intestines function.
Toxicological Arsenic and cynaide
poisoning--block cell respiration and diable
neurons Lead poisoning---slow neuron
functioning Tetrodotoxin---is a neuron poison
found in tropical frogs and puffer
fish. Inhibits the flow of sodium ions into the
nerve cells stopping the action potential.
Neurological Diseases
Traumatic Athletic injuries, car accidents,
work-related falls Neurons cannot be replaced
once they die. Injured neurons can be repaired
as long as intact neuroglia are nearby.
Undamaged neuroglial cells carry out neuron
Aging of the Nervous System
Neurons stop going through cell division as they
begin to form mature nervous system
structures. A person has the same nerve cells in
maturity that are present in childhood. Neuroglia
and neurons accumulate a significant amount of
injury over a persons lifespan. Nerve cells
under higher rate of metabolic activity. Puts
them at a higher risk for cellular damage. This
damage can alter the DNA of the nerve cells. This
can metabolic errors may be fatal to nerve
cells. Regular use of alcohol, drugs,
cigarettes, and exposure To pollution also
contribute to nerve cell damage.
Aging of the Nervous System
With age Most people lose consistent blood flow
to various tissues. Neurons -- slow down due
to inadequate nutrients --may run low on raw
materials needed to build
neurotransmitters. Neuron receptors also lose
responsiveness. Production of cytokines declines
with age. --this is a protein that stimulates
or inhibits the growth and activity of
particular cells. --this is essential form
maintaining the activity and health of
Aging of the Nervous System
Reduction of tonic control. --tonic control is
the result of regular nerve cell
communication to certain glands and muscles.
--helps to keep muscles slightly tense,
which assists with movement and posture. --
as one ages, they tend to lose some
mobility and have difficulty with balance
and posture.
Wellness and Illness over the Life Span
Much of the nervous systems aging is due to
reduced neuroglia and neuron function. Neurons
naturally age by accumulating plaques and
tangles. Neurons accumulate damage from oxidation
and can be hastened by toxins. Neurons cannot be
replaced when lost. Nervous system pathology is
degenerative, congenital, traumatic, or
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System
The nervous system communicates internal and
external stimuli using electrical impulses called
action potentials. It takes stimuli from the
environment and converts it to useful information
needed for appropriate body responses. It allows
the body to quickly adapt to environmental
changes and stresses. The nervous systems
ability to communicate internal stimuli helps
regulate the bodys internal conditions. This
communication is responsible for movement and all
mental activities.
Chapter 8 Function of the Nervous System