Oh, what nerve! The nervous system explained.

The nervous system is a wonderfully complex system that controls all of our senses. It regulates and coordinates the body’s  actions and its interactions with the external environment.

Read on to find out how it works and have a great time whilst learning all about it! 

The nervous system is divided into the central nervous system which is comprised of: the brain; the spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system which is made up of all the nerves, as seen in the diagram below.

The brain acts like a computer that controls the body’s functions, and the nervous system is like a network that sends messages to different parts of the body. The brain comprises of three main components: the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem (medulla).

Each component has a different function:

The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and it looks like a big walnut. It controls our thoughts, senses and imagination. It is what we see most of, when we look at diagrams of the brain.
The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain and is in charge of motion, balancing, the ability to learn new things.

The third major part, the brain stem (medulla)is in charge of involuntary actions, things we do automatically, like digestion, breathing, blinking. You can see these 3 major components of the brain on the diagram below.

The peripheral nervous system has billions of nerves and they have two main functions: for our brain to receive information from our senses  through the sensory nerves and to send information from our brain to our body, to make a particular action, through our motor nerves.

All nerves are made up of neurons, which have three major parts . A nucleus, which is the cell body, the dendrites and the axon. A neuron’s transmission can be as slow as 0.5 meters/sec or as fast as 120 meters/sec. Travelling at 120 meters/sec is the same as going 268 miles/hr! Isn’t that amazing…?

Some neurons are very short…less than a millimeter in length. Some neurons are very long…a meter or more! The axon of a motor neuron in the spinal cord that innervates a muscle in the foot can be about 1 meter (3 feet) in length.

App videosFind out more about neurons! WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO about the building blocks of our nervous system.{CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO} 


quiz iconREADY FOR THE QUIZ? Find out how much you now know about the nervous system by taking the quiz! {CLICK HERE FOR THE QUIZ}

Parents/teachers/adults, if you, like myself, are intrigued by neuroscience, read ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’ : Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge. It’s one of my favourite books, which changes the way we see the human mind by reveiling the secrets of  ‘neuroplasticity’.

Let me know what you think of it, too!

Hope you liked this post! I loved writing it for you!

Till next time…


All images used in this post were downloaded from the internet.

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