How does the nervous system work? The nervous system is a set of organs and neuronal tissue responsible for regulating the functions of our brain and its communication with the rest of our body. The nervous system allows us to perceive the senses and understand the world, thanks to it we can hear, see, smell, feel and taste. Not only that, but it also regulates our movements and our mental processing.
What is the nervous system: definition
When we reflect on ourselves as individuals and everything around us, we can conclude that everything we feel and think is part of our mind … However, what is really our mind?
While it is true that, under other focuses, we can analyze thinking beyond a physical level, what we are sure is that our brain and the connections it makes with the different organs of the nervous system can be understood as “the mind.”
So … what is the nervous system?
We can define this system as a set of specialized cells (neurons) responsible for transmitting information and creating a network of chemical and electrical communication through our bodies.
In humans, the greatest activity of the nervous system is concentrated in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system or CNS) although there are also neural networks distributed by trunk and extremities (autonomic nervous system or SNA).
It is important to comment that, in addition to the neuron, the nervous system could not function properly if it were not for the existence of glial cells or neuroglia. These cells are “the cement” that unites the neural network and without them, there would be no connection between external stimuli and our mind.
How does the nervous system work?
To understand its function, it is important to differentiate its two main ways: the one that transmits information and the one that receives and/or processes it. Let’s give an example to finish understanding how the nervous system works:
- We see a ball on the ground and hit it with the foot: our eyes perceive an object, this stimulus reaches the central nervous system (CNS) which processes it and detects the characteristics of the object until it identifies it as a ball. Later, through mental processing, we determine that we are going to kick it, so our brain sends information in the form of neurotransmitters through the autonomic nervous system (SNA) to the muscles of the leg so that they perform the movement of a kick.
Nervous system: parts and classification
As we have previously introduced, this set of neurons and glial cells is divided into several parts which are also divided according to the function of each organ. The parts or structure of the nervous system is something that has taken many years of research to create the model we have today and that we will show below.
How the nervous system is divided
First of all, we can differentiate two major divisions of the nervous system:
– The central nervous system (CNS): it is the part in which the information collected by the peripheral nervous system is processed, in addition, from the neuronal processing they also generate responses to send them to the other organs. For example, if we think about performing an action such as jumping, the CNS will send a signal to our muscles through the peripheral nervous system to execute that action. How does the nervous system work
– The peripheral nervous system (SNP): it consists of a network of nerves that collect information from the environment (senses) to give it to the CNS and, on the other, receive information from the CNS to perform actions throughout our body.
In turn, they can be divided as follows:
– Central Nervous System:
- Brain stem
- Spinal cord
– Peripheral nervous system
Organs of the nervous system
Now that we know how it works and how the nervous system is organized, let’s describe the different organs that are part of it:
- Brain: between the brain, cerebellum and brain stem. This organ is the main person in charge of processing the information about the nervous system.
- Spinal cord: connects the brain with nerves spread throughout the body, is attached to the brain stem and descends down our back.
- Sensory organs: the eyes, the receptors of the touch, the tongue, the nose, and the ears also have a strong influence on the nervous system since they are those that collect the necessary information for our brain processing.
- Nerves: The nervous network that extends through our body is an organic system that is part of the ANS.
Diseases of the nervous system
Being a network where so many organs participate, it is normal for many diseases to be related to the nervous system. The different psychopathologies (or mental illnesses) have a relationship between the neurotransmitters generated by our CNS. For example, people with depression or borderline personality disorder usually generate less serotonin than the average population.
We highlight the following diseases of the nervous system of physical origin:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, senile dementia, Alzheimer’s …)
- Head injuries
- Brain infections
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