01-06-2020

The human nervous system: parts and main functions

At the Instituto Clavel, as experts in neurosurgery, we would like you to understand one of the fundamental parts of your body: the nervous system, which consists of the set of structures that manage the proper functioning of the body.

The human nervous system is made up of three basic parts: the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system. Without a doubt, it is the most complex part of the human body, a masterpiece of nature. 

As we will see in detail below, most of the main functions of our body, if not all, depend on the nervous system. From breathing or the ability to move in a coordinated way to talking or feeling hungry. 

1. Central Nervous System (CNS)

The central nervous system is made up of the encephalon (which includes the brain, the thalamic structures, brainstem, and cerebellum), and the spinal cord

  • The brain is one of the most important parts of our body, the organ on which everything depends to work perfectly. The neurons responsible for the execution of different functions such as: mobility, sensitivity, speech, vision, etc. are located in the cerebral cortex. The subcortical structures are also located in this area, although at a greater depth, where the nuclei of neurons that are in charge of more complex functions such as the coordination of movements are located.
  • The thalamus, subthalamus and hypothalamus are in charge of connecting the thalamic information of the brain with the rest of the brain structures and vice versa. Their functions are more complex and are more related to sense and touch. They are responsible, for example, for creating the feeling of hunger.
  • The cerebellum, on the other hand, is interconnected with the thalamus and the subcortical nuclei. Its job is related to the coordination of movement.
  • The brain stem is another of the CNS structures and is responsible for the connection between the brain and spinal cord. It is here that we find the nuclei of neurons responsible for vital functions such as breathing, heart rate or consciousness
  • The spinal cord is outside the skull, inside the spinal canal, and is made up of nerves and a neural structure that receives the information from the brain. You can think of it as a high-speed fiber optic system that carries the signals from the brain. It works in the other direction as well, receiving signals from all points of the body and sending them back to the brain. 

2. Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

The peripheral nervous system is made up of the cranial nerves that are housed in the brain stem, the nerve roots of the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves that extend from the cord. It is like a wiring system that runs through our spine and extremities and can be classified into three types of nerve fibers: motor, sensory and pain transmitting.

3. Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The ANS consists of a chain of ganglia located on both sides of the spinal cord, extending from the cervical segment to the coccyx. Its main function is to control all the internal organs (heart, intestines...) and make them adapt to the needs of the body at all times.

Tips on caring for your nervous system

As you have seen, a large part of the vital functions of the human beings depends on the nervous system, so it is an essential structure to take care of. Although it is not possible to prevent all the diseases that can affect this system, leading a healthier lifestyle is always positive and will allow us to feel much better. 

The following are some habits that we can adopt to take care of the nervous system every day

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  • Reduce stress as much as possible.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Get regular medical check-ups.

Of course, apart from these recommendations, if you notice a problem that affects any of these regions or their functions, it is important that you go to the doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause and get treatment. 

At Instituto Clavel we are experts in neurosurgery and we work with the most advanced treatments and the most cutting-edge technology to carry out these types of operations in the safest way possible. If you have any questions or need personalized advice, contact us.

Categories: Prevention, Wellness

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