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Nervous System Structure & Function Dr. Frank Mitloehner

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1 Nervous System Structure & Function Dr. Frank Mitloehner

2 Organization of the Nervous System 1) Central nervous system (CNS) –Brain –Spinal cord 2) Peripheral nervous system (PNS) –Cranial nerves –Spinal nerves –Autonomic nerves



5 1) Central nervous system The CNS is involved in: Transmission of information (signals) Memory Problem-solving Input-output capability

6 The Central Nervous System (CNS) Brain Spinal Cord

7 2) Peripheral nervous system PNS function is: Transmission of nerve impulses

8 The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) PNS = only nerves, NOT spinal cord and brain Peripheral Nerves Cranial Nerves

9 The Peripheral Nervous System is only involved in: A.Transmission of information (signals) B.Memory C.Problem-solving D.Input-output capability


11 Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Bright spots highlight metabolically active sections of the brain during a language task. The back lights up when the person reads, the middle during active speech and the front when reasoning about the meaning of a word


13 The Brain Five divisions: Telencephalon (cerebral hemispheres) Dienencephalon (thalamus, hypothalamus) Mesencephalon (reflex centers) Metencephalon (cerebellum, pons) Myelencephalon (medulla oblongata)

14 Divisions of the CNS

15 Which of the following are not a division of the brain? A.Telencephalon B.Benencephalon C.Mesencephalon D.Metencephalon E.Myelencephalon


17 Lobes of the Brain Frontal lobe: reasoning Parietal lobe: seat of sensory and motor cortex Temporal lobe: hearing Occipital lobe: vision

18 The Basal Ganglia

19 The Limbic System

20 Which of the following is the seat of sensory and motor cortex? A.Frontal lobe B.Parietal lobe C.Temporal lobe D.Occipital lobe

21 Properties of the Nervous System Nerve function is generally very similar among all mamalian species All neurons (nerve cells) make up the nervous system Neuron membranes are electrically excitable (receive and send electrical signals) The function of the nervous system is:  a) to collect information (signals),  b) to process those information,  c) to generate responses to control behavior

22 Nerve Cell Terminology The neuron (nerve cell) consists of the soma (cell body) and all its processes (dendrites and axons) A dendrite is a process that conducts impulses toward the cell body An axon (also called nerve fiber) conducts impulses away from the cell body The axon is covered by a membrane, called axolemma



25 Which of the following is the typical direction of flow of information through a cortical neuron? A.axon; dendrite; cell body; synaptic terminal B.synaptic terminal; dendrite; cell body; axon C.dendrite; cell body; synaptic terminal; axon D.synaptic terminal; cell body; axon; dendrite E.dendrite; cell body; axon; synaptic terminal

26 Three Types of Neurons 1) Sensory neurons: transmit information of an internal or external stimulus to CNS (pain, temperature, touch…) 2) Interneurons: connect neurons inside the CNS 3) Motor neurons: carry signals from CNS to effector organs like e.g., muscles, or glands

27 Nerve (bundles of axons)

28 Spinal Cord

29 Reflex Arc

30 The axon can also be surrounded by supporting glial cells (white lipid structure), called myelin sheath. This myelin sheath is interrupted by regular spaced myelin-free gaps, called nodes of Ranvier. Myelin Sheath Nodes of Ranvier

31 Myelin Sheath Myelin is a white lipid substance that forms a sheath around the axon Serves as an electrical insulator Nerve cells in the gray matter of the CNS are not myelinated but the white matter is myelinated

32 Myelinated Axon

33 Which of the following is NOT a function of glial cells? A.Provision of nutrition to the brain B.Insulation of a nerve cell from other nerve cells C.The conduction of action potentials D.Removal of physical debris from the brain E.Physical support of neurons

34 Axon Terminal and Synapse The end of the axon is called axon terminals Continuity from one neuron to the next is provided by the synapse There is no physical contact between neurons. They are separated by a gap This gap between two neurons is called the synaptic gap or synapse Signals between two neurons are conducted by chemical means through the synapse

35 Synapse and Axon Terminals Axon Terminals Synapse Myelinated Axon








43 Questions?

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