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The Central nervous System

Topic Review on "Title":

Central Nervous System organization and cell types

Neurons: there are several types of neurons - anaxonic neurons: small neurons where the dendrites and axons are indistinguishable.

  • Bipolar neurons: small neurons with two distinct processes; a dendritic process and an axon extending from the cell body.
  • Unipolar neurons: large neurons with the cell body lying to one side of the continuous dendritic process and axon.
  • Multipolar neurons: large neurons with several dendrites and a single axon extending from the cell body.

Bipolar neurons: Biopolar neurons are CNS neurons specific for transmitting information from specialized sensory systems: sight, smell and hearing.

Grey and white matter: Grey matter consisting of unmyelinated neurons is the processing area of the CNS. White matter – located in the inner cortex and surrounding grey matter in the spinal cord - provide pathways of communication between grey matter.

Glial Cells
CNS Glial Cell Types: there are 4 types of glial cells

  1. astrocytes - Regulates the chemical microenvironment surrounding neurons,
  2. Oligodendrocytes - Myelinate central nervous system axons,
  3. Microglia - Migrating phagocytic cells resembling immune cells that remove waste, debris, and pathogens and
  4. Ependymal cells - Columnar cells that line the ventricals of the brain and the spinal canal in the spinal cord.

The Brain

Overview: The brain is the control center of the body.

Anatomy: the brain is divided into the following regions:

  1. The Cerebrum - controls voluntary movements and coordinates mental activity,
  2. The Cerebellum - coordinates voluntary movements, balance and posture,
  3. The Limbic System - control center for the autonomic nervous system, emotion and memory and
  4. The Brainstem - life support systems (e.g. breathing, swallowing).

Ventricles are the spaces in the brain and the spinal cord where cerebrospinal fluid is produced and circulated.

The Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is the portal connecting the brain to the rest of the body.    

Overview: The spinal cord, in an adult, is approximately 45 cm long and 1.5 cm wide and extends only to L1 or L2. Spinal nerves are named according to the vertebra they are adjacent to.

Anatomy: The spinal cord is well protected inside vertebrae. The dura (hard) mater is the outermost layer protecting the spinal cord. The pia (delicate) mater is the innermost layer protecting the spinal cord.

Functions: The spinal cord has a butterfly-like pattern, which consists of the grey matter - mostly unmyelinated interneurons. Afferent signals from the periphery synapse on interneurons in the grey matter of the spinal cord. Signals are then sent via myelinated neurons for processing by the appropriate centers in the brain.

Rapid Study Kit for "Title":
Flash Movie Flash Game Flash Card
Core Concept Tutorial Problem Solving Drill Review Cheat Sheet

"Title" Tutorial Summary :

This tutorial describes the central nervous system organs in detail, including the brain and spinal cord. The method of information transmission used by the brain, namely electrical impulses transmitted by nerves, is discussed. 

Tutorial Features:

Specific Tutorial Features:

  • Detailed anatomical pictures of the brain and the spinal cord. The sensory and motor pathways are also presented.

Series Features:

  • Concept map showing inter-connections of new concepts in this tutorial and those previously introduced.
  • Definition slides introduce terms as they are needed.
  • Visual representation of concepts
  • Examples given throughout to illustrate how the concepts apply.
  • A concise summary is given at the conclusion of the tutorial.

"Title" Topic List:

Central Nervous System organization and cell types

Bipolar neurons
Grey and white matter

Glial Cells

CNS Glial Cell Types

The Brain


The Spinal Cord


See all 24 lessons in Anatomy and Physiology, including concept tutorials, problem drills and cheat sheets:  Teach Yourself Anatomy and Physiology Visually in 24 Hours

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