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Brain Function


The body’s neural information system:

  • Neurons: nerve cells, building blocks of the nervous system

  • Dendrites: receive messages from other cells

  • Axon: passes messages from the cell body to other neurons/muscles/glands

  • Myelin sheath: covers the axon of some neurons and speeds neural impulses

  • Glial cells: support, nourish, and protect neurons (play a role in thinking/learning)


How neurons communicate:

  • Synapse: meeting point between neurons

    • Neurons send neurotransmitters across the synaptic gap

  • Neurotransmitters: chemical messengers that cross the synaptic gap between neurons

    • Bind to receptor sites on receiving neurons

  • Reuptake: neurotransmitters that are reabsorbed by the sending neuron

    • Can also drift away or be broken down by enzymes

The nervous system:

  • Nervous system: electrochemical communication network, consists of PNS and CNS

  • Central nervous system: brain and spinal cord, decision maker

  • Peripheral nervous system: gathers info and transmits CNS decisions to other parts

  • Nerves: bundles axons that form neural cables connecting CNS with muscles/glands/organs

    • Sensory neurons: carry incoming info from sensory receptors to CNS (afferent)

    • Motor neurons: carry outgoing info from CNS cord to muscles/glands (efferent)

    • Interneurons: communicate and process info between sensory inputs and motor outputs

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