Nervous System. Neuron types

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1 Nervous System Neurons Cells of the nervous system that process information. There about 10 billion of these; each cell has about 100,000 connections with other neurons. Cell body The nucleus and biosynthetic centers are located here. Make proteins and neurotransmitters. Also called the soma. Dendrite Cell extensions that carry signals towards the soma. There are usually many dendrites. Axon A Cell extension that carries signals away from the soma. There is only one axon per neuron. Neuron types There are three general classes of neurons; Sensory These cells carry signals towards the brain and spinal cord. They carry sensory information from receptors located around the body which detect external stimuli (sight, sound) or internal conditions (blood pressure and temp.) Motor These cells carry signals away from the brain and spinal cord. They carry motor information from neurons located within the brain and cord to muscles, glands, the heart and other organs. These signals control the activity of these organs. Interneuron These are neurons located within the brain and cord. They receive sensory information, process it and then signal the motor neurons either to fire or not fire. 1

2 Axon A Cell extension that carries signals away from the soma. Myelin sheath Many axon are covered by an insulating sheath called myelin. Myelin acts like the plastic insulation around a wire; it keeps the the nerve signals from leaking out of the axon and so prevents the signals from being degraded. It also helps to increase the speed of a nerve impulse. Action potential This is a term used to describe a nerve impulse. The distribution of ions across a neuron PM is uneven; there are more Na+ outside and more K+inside. There are also many other ions that are unevenly distributed across the membrane. This creates a charge difference across the membrane called the potential difference (PD); inside is negative compared to the outside. An action potential is defined as a moving potential difference. A nerve impulse is therefore a moving PD; the PD moves down the axon. Synapse is a junction between neurons or between a neuron and a muscle cell.. synaptic end bulb is found at the end of an axon. It has a bulbous structure and is found within a synapse. Neurotransmitters or NTs are found within the end bulb. These are chemical substances that carry a signal over to the next neuron ( or muscle cell.). Acetlycholine are found within the end bulb. These are chemical substances that carry a signal over to the next neuron ( or muscle cell.). noradrenaline This is another type of neurotransmitter which is also a hormone.also called adrenaline. 2

3 postsynaptic membrane is the cell membrane of the cell on the other side of the synapse. It contains receptors which bind to the NTs. When the NTs bind they generate new nerve signals (action potentials) in the postsynaptic cell membrane. one-way transmission Because of the synapse s structure signals can only travel from the presynaptic cell to the postsynaptic cell. Peripheral nervous system Nerves Are bundles of axons in the periphery of the body. They carry singals to and form the brain and cord to the various organs of the body. 3 type 1) sensory These are nerves which carry sensory information to the brain and cord; optic nerve. 2) motor These are nerves which carry motor information from the brain and cord to peripheral organs; these nerve control the activities of these organs. 3) mixed Most nerves carry both sensory and motor information. somatic nervous system A division of the peripheral NS that carries motor information to skeletal muscles.. autonomic nervous system- ANS A division of the peripheral NS that carries motor information to visceral organs and glands, such as the stomach, heart, sweat glands. Etc. Sympathetic A division of the ANS that triggers the flight or fight response. It activates those organs that will get you ready to deal with a stressful situation: Increased heart rate and respiration, inc BP, inc sweating. Slows down digestive and urinary activities; less blood flow through these organs. parasympathetic Called the rest and repose division. Allows you to recover from stress; dec. HR and BO, dec. respiration rate, inc. blood flow to digestive and urinary organs. 3

4 Reflex A reflex is a rapid, automatic response to a stimulus (a sensory signal.) Reflexes allow you to engage in complex activities without you being aware of every step needed to perform that activity. Most reflexes exist below the level of consciousness. A receptor detects some change in internal or external conditions. The receptor converts the change into a nerve signal which is sent to the spinal cord. The spinal cord processes the impulse and then sends an nerve impulse back out to some organ in the periphery. This organ then acts to oppose the change that triggered the reflex; this is a type of negative feedback. Knee jerk reflex; ; limits the amount of stretching in a muscle. Central nervous system Consists of the brain and the spinal cord. 1) Spinal Cord Found with the vertebral canal of the spinal column. Is a bridge between the periphery and the brain; sensory and motor information form the body flows through the cord. spinal nerves It is also the place where many reflex centers are located. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves which carry both motor and sensory information 2) Brain Stem Above the top of the spinal cord. This is the place where many autonomic processes are regulated; heart rate, BP, breathing, etc. 3) Cerebellum Just behind the brain stem. This structure regulates fine motor control and coordinates muscle activities. Brings together information about body and limb position, speed and rotation through space and based on this info determines how to move a limb to accomplish a particular task. 4) Cerebrum The largest part of the brain; this is where cognitive function, memory, intellect and emotions reside. The brain is made of 4 major lobes: frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital. 4

5 cerebral hemispheres The brains consist of two major parts called the hemispheres. Cortex covers each hemispheres. It is about 3-6mm thick and is made of neuron cell bodies (somas). Most of the 10 billion or so neurons are found here. The cortex is thrown into folds called convolutions which increase the surface area for the cortex. Information processing for memory and intellectual functions occurs here. corpus callosum The two hemispheres are connected by a thick bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. This allows the two sides of the brain to communicate with each other. There are some differences in the functions between the two hemispheres: right side- spatial, intuitive. Left side- logical, verbal. Limbic system memory This is part of the brain that is involved in learning and memory. It is very closely associated with the thalamus, which is involved in emotional responses. That is why events with strong emotional content are remembered so vividly. The hippocampus is used for mapping memory; this structure enables you to figure where your are and where you re going. Memory is not localized to any one region of the brain; it appears to be distribution in many places and stored in the intrconnections between neurons. 5

6 Enkephalins and endorphins We ve discussed neurotransmitters before; such as acetlycholine. There are have over 50 different NTs identified as the present time. Enkephalins: means within the head substance This substance is released during stressful episodes, such as during a marathon run. It is responsible for runner s high. Endorphins: are endogenous morphine or morphine-like substances made by the body. They are released when the body is experiencing pain: a natural painkiller. Diseases of the CNS Epilepsy Sometimes groups of neurons start to fire uncontrollably, this generates a storm of electrical activity over the surface of the brain resulting in a epileptic seizure. Parkinson disease The NT dopamine is lacking in the motor pathways of individuals suffering from Parkinson Disease. The symptoms include ataxia (difficulty walking) tremors and postural problems. It is treated with a synthetic dopamine called L-Dopa. Stroke Similar to a heart attack, but in the brain. The blood vessels that supply parts of the brain are blocked, which results in the death of neural tissue. The effects of a stroke are dependent on what part of the brain has been damaged. Alzheimer's disease Affects some elderly individuals, although a few patients are affected in their 40s. The basic model of how AD works is not clear, but this is what thought to happen. There appears to be a build up of a material called amygdeloid plagues and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles around or within the axon, respectively. These deposits disrupt the transmission of normal nerve signals. The process is chronic, progressive and there does not appear to be a cure at present This results in a gradual loss of memory and cognitive functions; also emotional disturbances may be present. The identity of the person is lost. 6

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