The CNS is a connection of nerves which executes control over the mind and most of the body functions. It is made up of two parts which are the brain and a spinal cord. The brain forms the core of our thoughts by interpreting what lies within our external environment. Majority of the movements made by the body originate from the brain. It coordinates those movements and ensures that they are well executed to enable human beings to carry out their daily duties. Information which originates from body organs like the eyes, nose and the ears is interpreted by the brain to come with senses like sight, smell and sound. The functionality of internal organs like the stomach, liver and intestines also depends on interpretations from the brain.
On the hand, the spinal cord creates an avenue for communication between the brain and the whole body. The flow of information between the brain and other body organs usually becomes distorted whenever an injury occurs to the spinal cord.
The spinal cord and the brain link together with a complex interconnection of neurons. Neurons are primarily responsible for the reception and transmission of impulses or information all over the body. Neurons build into the nervous system which monitor and coordinates the internal functions of the body organs. The nerves facilitate response to changes that occur within the external environment.
For a better understanding of the CNS, the paper shall examine the functional individual components of the CNS.
The brain forms the primary control unit of the human body. The brain is made up of three parts which are the fore part of the brain, mid part of the brain and the hind section of the brain.
Forebrain receives and processes information from sensory nerves. As result of the processing, people are able to perceive, think, produce and understand languages. The forebrain is therefore what enables people to communicate. In addition to these, the forebrain has the hypothalamus and the thalamus. They carry out motor control, relay information from sensory nerves and regulate the autonomic and involuntary responses of the body to changes in the environment. For instance, when an individual is exposed to very low temperatures, body muscles shake involuntarily as the hypothalamus attempts to regulate the body temperature (J. Harrigan, S. Harrigan, Suderman, and Mercer 1).
The forebrain has the cerebrum, which forms its largest section. It is responsible for actual processing of information relayed to the brain. It enables people to give relevant responses to questions and understand what is happening around them.
The brainstem is results from the conjunction of the midbrain and hind section of the brain. The forebrain and the hindbrain are connected to the brainstem by the midbrain. The brainstem deals with visual and auditory responses. It is also concerned with motor functions.
The last component of the brain is the hindbrain. This part extends towards the medulla spinalis from the back of the brain and it is composed of structures like the cerebellum and Pons. These structures help in maintenance of the body’s equilibrium and general balance, coordination of body movement and transmission of sensory information. The medulla oblongata is also located in the in the hind brain. Its role is to regulate involuntary body functions especially heart rate, breathing and digestion of food (Michael, Titus, Revest and Shortland 3).
Medulla Spinalis (Spinal Cord)
The medulla Spinalis has a cylindrical shape. It is made up of a collection of nerve fibres which are linked to one’s brain. The spinal cord is a very delicate structure and as such, it is located in the protective spinal column.
It forms the main highway for exchange of nerve transmissions between the brain and the whole body. The nerves spread throughout the body hence they collect information from external stimuli and other organs and transmit it towards our brain. This enables the relevant part of our brain to come up with an appropriate response according to the information received from the bundle of nerves.
After formulating the right response, it is carried back to the relevant body organ that necessitated the response from our brain, through the nerves. This triggers body organs to respond to the situation as instructed by our brain. The nerves found within the Medulla Spinalis operate in parallel. The ascending nerve pathways transmit sensory information to our brain from body organs. On the other hand, the descending nerve pathways carry information signals related to motor functions from our brain to all body parts.
Neurons form building blocks for all nerves. Cellular components of the CNS are built up by neurons. They are extensions that project from the cell body of a nerve. The extensions are further built up by structures called dendrites and axons which have the unique ability to transmit and conduct signals.
Axons transport information signals from cells towards the brain. Axons are physically long and often spread outwards to carry information to other body organs. On the contrary, dendrites transmit signals into the cells. Dendrites are structurally shorter, numerous and more spread out compared to axons. Dendrites and axons bundle up to form the nervous system. Nerves carry information revolving around the spinal cord, the body and the brain.
There are three types of neurons which include sensory, motor and interneuron. Motor neurons transmit signals from the CNS towards body organs, muscles and glands. Sensory neurons carry information from the external environment and body organs to the CNS while inter-neurons enable the exchange of information between sensory and motor neurons.
Self Protection by the CNS from Injury
The CNS is a vital organ in the body. The composite organs and structures make it delicate and susceptible to injury. As a result, the CNS is very well protected compared to other organs in the body. Its primary defence line is the spinal column and fused bones that form a thick skull. The skull is hard enough to resist a huge amount of pressure creating a reliable physical barrier against many forms of injury.
The CNS also has a fluid within the space found below bones which helps to absorb shock. However, this protection puts the Central Nervous System at risk. If any injury occurs to the CNS, it causes the brain’s soft tissue to swell. This results to pressure on the CNS due to the limited amount of space. The oedema (swelling) may worsen the injury if measures are not taken rapidly to relieve the injured CNS. A fractured skull also poses the risk of further damage to the CNS or possible disease infection (Vogel 4).
The Central Nervous System greatly differs from the other body organs. Most body organs perform one function while the CNS controls the involuntary and voluntary responses and movements of the body. These include walking, speech, blinking and breathing. The human body always strives to attain a balance between its metabolic processes. This is called homeostasis. The body always wants to remain constant. The CNS, unlike the other body parts, oversees the homeostatic processes which allow people to survive. It determines the most appropriate response to stress by releasing cortisol and adrenaline which assist in adapting to the threat.
Central Nervous System: Connection to Psychological and Physical Stress
The CNS plays an important role in dealing with physical and psychological stress. In a situation of acute stress, the central nervous system triggers the release of hormone adrenaline. If the stress continues for a long time, the body responds by producing cortisol, a process regulated by the hypothalamus part of the brain. The CNS initiates the release of these hormones as a result of the body’s need to maintain an optimal balance. Cortisol is released under extreme stress in preparation for a fight or intense physical activity like running away from danger (Wildemann 5). Cortisol mobilizes the body very well in a manner that it has enough energy incentives to survive or face the danger.
Under chronic stress conditions, the CNS through coordinating the release of cortisol ensures that the body has adequate energy, reduced sensitization to pain and improved memory function to enable the person remember the events of the stressful situation.
On a psychological basis, happiness is considered to be the result of a hormone called serotonin. This hormone is a neurotransmitter within neurons in the central nervous system. In a healthy and efficient CNS, serotonin helps to regulate factors like appetite, sleep, ands sex drive. When a person exhibits symptoms of stress and depression, these are the real-life areas that are affected.
There are individuals who have shown low amounts of serotonin and these low levels are linked to clinical depression. There has been continued research into the relationship between low levels of serotonin and depression. Most results point to the fact that the prescription of anti-depressants heavily relies on serotonin. Patients with low serotonin also exhibit unusual levels of cortisol in their blood systems. Prolonged stress can result into depression which suggests that there is a psychological relationship among the three variables; cortisol, serotonin and depression.
How to Achieve Optimal Health for the Central Nervous System through Psychology
Reduction of anxiety ensures optimal health for the central nervous system. Anxiety and stress lead to overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol which lower the ability of the immune system to prevent infections. This process clearly shows why many people experience the common cold when they are having a difficult time. The weak immune system often lacks adequate strength to resist disease infections. To avoid putting the CNS at risk of infection, people need to reduce anxiety and stress or they should find a quick and effective way of dealing with them when they occur.
Better organization at home and the workplace leads to lesser stress and thus reduced production of cortisol. A healthy psychological relationship indicates that people can learn to be better organized which reduces the level of anxiety. The amount of destructive cortisol will thus be reduced.
Nearly 19 million American citizens show symptoms of depression. In the individual’s life, the condition affects approximately 20 percent of women and nearly 10 percent of men. In this modern life setting where the pace is fast, depression has become equally rampant like the common cold. People cite high amount of cortisol in their blood between 8 AM and 4 PM in the evening. Most careers are demanding during these hours.
Research shows that characteristics of one’s personality traits can lead to a change in the nature of metabolism leading to hazardous effects on the mind and the body. When people are consistently happy, there was little production of cortisol compared to days when people were in a sad and sombre mood.
The good thing is that people have the power to choose whether they want to live a stressful or a stress free life, either consciously or unconsciously. They are in charge of the decision pertaining to their lifestyle. Psychological changes in routines and habits can be achieved whenever the individual has a desire to live a very healthy life. The objective is psychological health which reduces the risk of a damaged central nervous system through a healthy lifestyle from day to day. The ability to prevent a chronic disease is the meeting point between the central nervous system and health psychology.
Causes of Paralysis
Paralysis refers to the loss of sensitivity by the body to both internal and external stimuli. Appropriate responses by the CNS result from structured topographical organization possessed by the human body. This ordered relationship implies that different segments of the CNS perform different functions. An injury to a particular section of the cordial relationship has an effect on the neighbouring parts.
Paralysis results from failure in communication between spinal cord and the brain. This may be as an effect of injury to neurons within the brain (stroke) or the spinal cord (F. Babamahmoodi, Davoudi, A. Babamahmoodi and Sepehrimanesh 7). On the other hand, there are certain diseases like poliomyelitis and Lou Gehrig’s disease affect the functionality of neurons in the spinal cord leading to paralysis.
Inability of the CNS to Repair Its Injuries
Most of the body organs have the ability to repair injuries that they suffer without the intervention. Metabolic processes and certain food vitamins enable the body’s muscle tissues to regenerate and recover. Unfortunately, there are certain specialized cells of the CNS that lack the ability to divide and generate new cells. This makes the recovery from a spinal cord injury and the brain very difficult compared to the other body organs.
The CNS is so complex that that it cannot form the appropriate connection between a spinal cord and the brain whenever an injury occurs. This makes it difficult for the brain to trigger the right responses that can enable the central nervous system to heal. In addition, it poses a great challenge for medical practitioners who attempt to recreate and repair the central nervous system after an injury.
The CNS is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is further subdivided into the forebrain, the brainstem and the hindbrain. The spinal cord is a cylindrical shaped collection of nerves bundled together and run from the back of the neck to the lower back section. The nerves made up of axons and dendrites that relay information in a parallel manner between the brain and the whole body.
The CNS is well protected by thick bones and a skull which help to absorb pressure and prevent physical damage. The CNS also has a fluid filled cavity below the bones that absorbs shock.
Psychology relates to the CNS in that there are certain practices like reduced anxiety which help to improve the health of the CNS.
Babamahmoodi, Farhang, Alireza Davoudi, Abdolreza Babamahmoodi, and Mojgan Sepehrimanesh. "Epidemiologic Characteristics of Patients Treated in a Referral Center With the Diagnosis of Central Nervous System Infection in North of Iran, from March 2008 to March 2012: A Retrospective Observational Registry Study." (2013): Print.
Harrigan, Jim, Sean Harrigan, Robert Suderman, and Lin Mercer. The Nervous System. Cypress, Calif N.p., n.d. Print.
Michael-Titus, Adina, Patricia Revest, and Peter Shortland. The Nervous System. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2007. Print.
Vogel, Hannes. Nervous System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.
Wildemann, B. "The expanding range of autoimmune disorders of the nervous system." (2013): Print.