The Nervous System Flashcards Preview

The Brain > The Nervous System > Flashcards

Flashcards in The Nervous System Deck (41)
Loading flashcards...

What are the two sub-systems of the nervous system?

The two sub-systems of the nervous system are:

  1. The central nervous system
  2. The peripheral nervous system


What are the physical components of the central nervous system (CNS)?

The brain and the spinal cord


What is the physical component of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)?

All of the body's nerves.

The peripheral nervous system is further sub-divided into the somatic and the autonomic nervous systems.


the somatic nervous system

The somatic nervous system is the sub-system of the PNS responsible for the voluntary control of muscle functioning and the detection of stimuli through the body's sensory receptors.


the autonomic nervous system

The autonomic nervous system is the sub-system of the PNS responsible for subconscious, involuntary, visceral functions that maintain the body at a homeostatic state. 

The autonomic nervous system coordinates activities such as digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate, salivation, excretion of urine, secretion of hormones, and sexual arousal.


the sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is a sub-system of the autonomic nervous system that acts to prepare the body for physical or mental activity, particularly in the fight-or-flight response.

The SNS responds to major stressors by increasing heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and perspiration, dilating pupils and bronchi, and decreasing digestion.


the parasympathetic nervous system

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is a sub-system of the autonomic nervous system responsible for "rest and digest", or the overall slow-down of the body's functions in order to conserve energy.

The only body functions that the PNS augments are digestion and sexual arousal. 


What two types of cells comprise the nervous system?

neurons and glial cells


a neuron

A neuron is the electrically excitable cell that comprises the nervous system and functions to process and  transmit impulses through the body.

A neuron contains a cell body, dentrites, which gather and carry impulses to the cell body, and an axon, which carries information away from the cell body and towards other cells.


a glial cell

A glial cell functions to support the neuronal cells within the nervous system by providing nourishment, protection, and physical support.

There are many different types of glial cells, all with specific functions and locations. 

Neurons could not function, or survive, without the support of glial cells. 


a synapse

A synapse is the location where the axon of one neuron connects to the dendrite of the next. 

The gap between neurons is called the synaptic gap, or cleft.

Synapses can either be chemical or electrical in nature.


an electrical synapse

An electrical synapse is a synapse in which the neurons are directly touching and are connected by small junctions that allow nerve impulses to pass directly from one neuron to the other.

Electrical synapses are not as common as chemical synapses. 


a chemical synapse 

A chemical synapse is a synapse in which the neurons do not actually touch, and instead communicate by sending chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that bridge the gap between them. 

Chemical synapses are more common than electrical synapses.


a neurotransmitter

A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that allows for the communication between neurons in a chemical synapse.

Neurotransmitters are released from the axon of the presynaptic neuron, diffuse across the synaptic gap, and attach to specific receptors on the dendrites of the postsynaptic neuron.


an action potential

An action potential is the technical term used to describe a nerve impulse.

Action potentials consist of a brief, reversible polarization of the neuron. The polarization then travels along the axon, allowing for the propagation of the impulse.



Myelin is a fat-like insulating sheath, made by glial cells, that surrounds the axons of neurons and dramatically increases the speed of the action potential propagation.


How many pairs of external brain lobes are there on the surface of the human brain?

The human brain has four pairs of external brain lobes. They include the following:

  1. Frontal lobe
  2. Parietal lobe
  3. Temporal lobe
  4. Occipital lobe

There is a fifth lobe, called the insular lobe, but it cannot be seen from the surface.

Describe the function of:

the frontal lobe of the brain

The frontal lobe is involved with reasoning, planning, regulating emotions, forming personality, and initiating voluntary movements.

A small part of the left frontal lobe, called Brocca's area, is responsible for converting thoughts into words. 

Describe the function of:

the parietal lobe of the brain

The parietal lobe manages sensory perceptions, gives meaning to visual and auditory signals by associating them with past memories, and allows for the understanding of written and spoken language. 

Describe the function of:

the temporal lobe of the brain

The temporal lobe is responsible for distinguishing between sounds, interpreting and understanding spoken language, and forming and recalling memories.

While the left temporal lobe is extensively involved with verbal memory, the right temporal lobe is more involved with visual memory. 

Describe the function of:

the occipital lobe of the brain

The occipital lobe, also known as the visual cortex, is responsible for visually recognizing and identifying objects, and analyzing visual information.

Describe the function of:

the insular lobe of the brain

The insular lobe is believed to be partly responsible for emotion, states of consciousness, and regulation of the body's homeostatic states.

The insular lobe has functions as diverse as assisting with motor control, perception, interpersonal experience, cognitive functioning, and self-awareness. 

Describe the function of:

the thalamus of the brain

The thalamus functions as a relay station for all information entering and leaving the brain.

The thalamus passes on sensory information to the cortex, determines which pieces of information should reach consciousness, and exchanges motor information from the cortex to lower parts of the brain.

Describe the function of:

the hypothalamus of the brain

The hypothalamus is responsible for many of the body's important homeostatic functions such as body temperature, hunger, thirst, and circadian rhythms.

The hypothalamus also connects the nervous system with the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, which sits directly below the hypothalamus.

Describe the function of:

the cortex of the brain

The cortex contains all the external lobes of the brain, as well as the insular lobe, and therefore is responsible for all of their functions, including sensory and motor control, reasoning, planning, personality, language, memory, emotions, and consciousness. 

Describe the function of:

the basal ganglia of the brain

The basal ganglia are responsible for controlling sensations, and initiating and regulating movements.

Describe the function of:

the amygdala of the brain

The amygdala is involved with learning, memory, and the regulation of emotions, especially fear and aggressive reactions. 

Describe the function of:

the hippocampus of the brain

The hippocampus is the relay station for memories, assisting in encoding information for long-term memory storage, and retrieving these memories for recall. 

The hippocampus is connected to all parts of the cortex, enabling memories to maintain contextual relevance involving more than one sense. 


What three structures are considered part of the brainstem?

  1. The medulla oblongata 
  2. The pons
  3. The midbrain 

Describe the function of:

the medulla oblongata of the brain

The medulla oblongata regulates basics life functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, as well as controls reflexes such as swallowing, sneezing, and vomiting.