Friday, May 13, 2022

Which Body Part Sends Messages To The Brain

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How The Spinal Cord And Internal Organs Work Together

How fast does your brain send messages to your body?

In addition to the control of voluntary movement, the central nervous system contains the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways that control the “fight or flight” response to danger and regulation of bodily functions. These include hormone release, movement of food through the stomach and intestines, and the sensations from and muscular control to all internal organs.

This diagram illustrates these pathways and the level of the spinal cord projecting to each organ.

What Conditions And Disorders Affect The Nervous System

Thousands of disorders and conditions can affect your nerves. An injured nerve has trouble sending a message. Sometimes its so damaged that it cant send or receive a message at all. Nerve injury can cause numbness, a pins-and-needles feeling or pain. It may be difficult or impossible for you to move the area thats injured.

Nerve damage can happen in several ways. Some of the most common causes of nerve damage include:

Things That Can Go Wrong With The Brain

Because the brain controls just about everything, when something goes wrong with it, its often serious and can affect many different parts of the body. Inherited diseases, brain disorders associated with mental illness, and head injuries can all affect the way the brain works and upset the daily activities of the rest of the body.

Problems that can affect the brain include:

Brain tumors. A brain tumor is an abnormal tissue growth in the brain. A tumor in the brain may grow slowly and produce few symptoms until it becomes large, or it can grow and spread rapidly, causing severe and quickly worsening symptoms. Brain tumors in children can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors usually grow in one place and may be curable through surgery if theyre located in a place where they can be removed without damaging the normal tissue near the tumor. A malignant tumor is cancerous and more likely to grow rapidly and spread.

Epilepsy. This condition is made up of a wide variety of seizure disorders. Partial seizures involve specific areas of the brain, and symptoms vary depending on the location of the seizure activity. Other seizures, called generalized seizures, involve a larger portion of the brain and usually cause uncontrolled movements of the entire body and loss of consciousness when they occur. Although the specific cause is unknown in many cases, epilepsy can be related to brain injury, tumors, or infections. The tendency to develop epilepsy may be inherited in families.

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Animals Collect Sensory Information In Different Ways

Most animals are able to collect sensory information in the same way as we do, through touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. The way they gather this information may be very different. Some animals may have more heightened senses than we have. For example, dogs and cats can hear higher pitched sounds than we can.

Other animals have more developed senses that allow them to gather information in ways we cannot.

Some bats, whales, and dolphins are able to find prey through echolocation. These animals send out noises which echo back and allow them to see their prey.

Snakes smell with their tongues and then transfer the smell to special organs on the roof of their mouths.

Sharks are sensitive to electrical fields made by other animals moving in the water. They use this information to help them find their prey.

How We Study The Brain

How do neurons attach to one another?

The brain is difficult to study because it is housed inside the thick bone of the skull. Whats more, it is difficult to access the brain without hurting or killing the owner of the brain. As a result, many of the earliest studies of the brain focused on unfortunate people who happened to have damage to some particular area of their brain. For instance, in the 1880s a surgeon named Paul Broca conducted an autopsy on a former patient who had lost his powers of speech. Examining his patients brain, Broca identified a damaged areanow called the Brocas Areaon the left side of the brain . Over the years a number of researchers have been able to gain insights into the function of specific regions of the brain from these types of patients.

An alternative to examining the brains or behaviors of humans with brain damage or surgical lesions can be found in the instance of animals. Some researchers examine the brains of other animals such as rats, dogs and monkeys. Although animals brains differ from human brains in both size and structure there are many similarities as well. The use of animals for study can yield important insights into human brain function.

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Animals Use Sensory Information To Help Them Survive

When sensory information is gathered and sent to the brain, the brain tells the animal how to respond. That response could be to run from predators or to find a mate. This information helps the animal survive.

Example: Chameleons have a unique sense of sight. They are able to see in every direction because their eyes move independently. That means one eye can look forward while the other eye looks backward. Chameleons are able to use their amazing eyes to gather important information about their surroundings, such as the location of a predator.

Structure Of The Nervous System


Neurons or nerve cells carry signals throughout the nervous system. Groups of nerve cells get together to form the nerve tissue or nerves. A signal can pass through a nerve cell with a speed of 265 miles/hour. Even though signals pass through one neuron with such speed, having a group of neurons or nerves helps the signal travel through faster and with more strength.

Every neuron has a basic structure consisting of three main parts: the dendrites, cell body, and axon. The diagram outlines the structure of a basic nerve cell.

The main part of a nerve cell is the cell body. The cell body contains the main control center of the cell, the nucleus and all the other structures found in any typical body cell. The cell body controls the cellâs functions. For example, it supplies the rest of the cell with food and energy and controls the elimination of waste products.

From the cell body extends several hair-like branches called dendrites . These structures carry signals to the cell body from other neurons or the environment. Attached to the cell body is another long, thick, tail-like structure called the axon . The axon carries the signals away from the cell body. The dendrites and axons are called nerve fibers.

There are three types of neurons classified according to their function. While the basic structure of these neurons are the same, they have slight variations to help them maximize their functions. The diagram below shows three main types of neurons.

Spinal Cord

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Nervous System Development Across The Human Lifespan

As a species, humans have evolved a complex nervous system and brain over millions of years. Comparisons of our nervous systems with those of other animals, such as chimpanzees, show some similarities . Researchers can also use fossils to study the relationship between brain volume and human behavior over the course of evolutionary history. Homo habilis, for instance, a human ancestor living about 2 million years ago shows a larger brain volume than its own ancestors but far less than modern homo sapiens. The main difference between humans and other animals– in terms of brain development– is that humans have a much more developed frontal cortex .

Interestingly, a persons unique nervous system develops over the course of their lifespan in a way that resembles the evolution of nervous systems in animals across vast stretches of time. For example, the human nervous system begins developing even before a person is born. It begins as a simple bundle of tissue that forms into a tube and extends along the head-to-tail plane becoming the spinal cord and brain. 25 days into its development, the embryo has a distinct spinal cord, as well as hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain . What, exactly, is this nervous system that is developing and what does it do?

How Does The Myelin Sheath Work

Neuronauts: Brain Messages

Myelin is a fatty material that coats, protects, and insulates nerves, enabling them to quickly conduct impulses between the brain and different parts of the body. Myelin also contains proteins that can be targeted by the immune system. Myelin coats the nerves of both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system the destruction of the myelin in the central nervous system is what triggers many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis .

Nerve cells are coated with sections of myelin, and the tiny spaces between the sections are called nodes. As the brain sends messages through the nerves of the spinal cord, the impulses jump from node to node. The myelin sheath prevents these impulses from escaping from the nerve at the wrong point.

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Animals Respond To Sensory Information In Different Ways

Most animals are born knowing how to use their senses. When fall approaches, certain types of birds sense the changing of the season and fly south for the winter. Other animals choose to hibernate instead.

Both types of animals are gathering information about the changing temperature, amount of daylight, and the different smells in the environment. However, each animals response to the information is different.

At the beginning of the video, Zoe and Izzy were trying to locate a dog. They choose to use a high-pitched whistle to call it. Bolt was not born knowing that the whistle means dinner time. He was trained to learn that when he hears the whistle, he will get food.

Show/hide Words To Know

Blood-brain barrier: a protective layer that surrounds the brain and controls what things can move into the area around the brain.

Circadian rhythm: the body’s natural clock that runs on roughly a 24 hour cycle. Many animals have a 24 hour cycle that includes sleeping, eating and doing work… more

CLSM: confocal laser scanning microscope makes high quality images of microscopic objects with extreme detail… more

Metabolism: what living things do to stay alive. This includes eating, drinking, breathing, and getting rid of wastes… more

Puberty: the change from child to adult where the body is able to reproduce.

Vertebra: any of the bones that make up the backbone.

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The Brain & Nervous System In Everyday Life

If the brain is like a central computer that controls all the functions of your body, then the nervous system is like a network that sends messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. It does this via the spinal cord, which runs from the brain down through the back and contains threadlike nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.

When a message comes into the brain from anywhere in the body, the brain tells the body how to react. For example, if you accidentally touch a hot stove, the nerves in your skin shoot a message of pain to your brain. The brain then sends a message back telling the muscles in your hand to pull away. Luckily, this neurological relay race takes a lot less time than it just took to read about it!

How Does Your Body Move Does The Brain Send It Messages

Nervous System Structures and Function

Muscles move on commands from the brain. Single nerve cells in the spinal cord, called motor neurons, are the only way the brain connects to muscles. When a motor neuron inside the spinal cord fires, an impulse goes out from it to the muscles on a long, very thin extension of that single cell called an axon. When the impulse travels down the axon to the muscle, a chemical is released at its ending. Muscles are made of long fibers connected to each other longways by a ratchet mechanism, the kind of mechanism that allows the two parts of an extension ladder to slide past each other and then lock in a certain position. When the chemical impulse from the motor neuron hits the muscle, it causes to muscle fibers to rachet past each other, overlapping each other more, so that the muscle gets shorter and fatter. When the impulses from the nerves stop, the muscle fibers slide back to their original positions.

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How Does The Nervous System Work

The basic workings of the nervous system depend a lot on tiny cells called neurons. The brain has billions of them, and they have many specialized jobs. For example, sensory neurons send information from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin to the brain. Motor neurons carry messages away from the brain to the rest of the body.

All neurons relay information to each other through a complex electrochemical process, making connections that affect the way you think, learn, move, and behave.

Intelligence, learning, and memory. As you grow and learn, messages travel from one neuron to another over and over, creating connections, or pathways, in the brain. It’s why driving takes so much concentration when someone first learns it, but later is second nature: The pathway became established.

In young children, the brain is highly adaptable. In fact, when one part of a young child’s brain is injured, another part often can learn to take over some of the lost function. But as you age, the brain has to work harder to make new neural pathways, making it harder to master new tasks or change set behavior patterns. That’s why many scientists believe it’s important to keep challenging the brain to learn new things and make new connections it helps keeps the brain active over the course of a lifetime.

The Senses

Smell. Olfactory cells in the mucous membranes lining each nostril react to chemicals you breathe in and send messages along specific nerves to the brain.

Intelligence Learning And Memory

When you learn things, messages travel from one neuron to another, over and over. Then the brain creates connections between the neurons, so things become easier and you can do them better and better.

In young children, the brain is highly adaptable. In fact, when one part of a young childs brain is injured, another part may learn to take over some of the lost function. But as we age, the brain has to work harder to make new neural pathways, making it more difficult to master new tasks or change established behavior patterns. Thats why many scientists believe its important to keep challenging your brain to learn new things and make new connections it helps keep the brain active over the course of a lifetime.

Memory is another complex function of the brain. The things weve done, learned, and seen are first processed in the cortex, and then, if we sense that this information is important enough to remember permanently, its passed inward to other regions of the brain for long-term storage and retrieval. As these messages travel through the brain, they create pathways that serve as the basis of our memory.

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What Happens Following A Spinal Cord Injury

A common set of biological events take place following spinal cord injury:

  • Cells from the immune system migrate to the injury site, causing additional damage to some neurons and death to others that survived the initial trauma.
  • The death of oligodendrocytes causes axons to lose their myelination, which greatly impairs the conduction of action potential, messages, or renders the remaining connections useless. The neuronal information highway is further disrupted because many axons are severed, cutting off the lines of communication between the brain and muscles and between the body’s sensory systems and the brain.
  • Within several weeks of the initial injury, the area of tissue damage has been cleared away by microglia, and a fluid-filled cavity surrounded by a glial scar is left behind. Molecules that inhibit regrowth of severed axons are now expressed at this site. The cavitation is called a syrinx, which acts as a barrier to the reconnection of the two sides of the damaged spinal cord.
  • Bladder Control Problems & Nerve Disease

    The Brain for Kids – What is the brain and how does it work?

    For the urinary system to do its job, muscles and nerves must work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time. Nerves carry messages from the bladder to the brain to let it know when the bladder is full. They also carry messages from the brain to the bladder, telling muscles either to tighten or release. A nerve problem might affect your bladder control if the nerves that are supposed to carry messages between the brain and the bladder do not work properly.

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    What Conditions And Disorders Affect Your Brainstem

    A wide range of injuries or conditions can damage your brainstem. Some of these include:

    How Do I Keep My Nervous System Healthy

    Your nervous system is the command center for your entire body. It needs care to keep working correctly. See your doctor regularly, eat a healthy diet, avoid drugs, and only drink alcohol in moderation. The best way to avoid nerve damage from disease is to manage conditions that can injure your nerves, such as diabetes.

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