Neuroscience

Untangling the brain's life-support network

The portion of the brain known as the hypothalamus is small but mighty—it controls fundamental behaviors and physiology that are essential for survival. These include eating and drinking, sexual and defensive behaviors, ...

Neuroscience

Like mountaineers, nerves need expert guidance to find their way

Similar to the dozens of Sherpas that guide hikers up treacherous Himalayan mountains to reach a summit, the nervous system relies on elaborate timing and location of guidance cues for neuronal axons—threadlike projections—to ...

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Nervous system

The nervous system is a network of specialized cells that communicate information about an organism's surroundings and itself. It processes this information and causes reactions in other parts of the body. It is composed of neurons and other specialized cells called glial cells,(plural form glia), that aid in the function of the neurons. The nervous system is divided broadly into two categories: the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. Neurons generate and conduct impulses between and within the two systems. The peripheral nervous system is composed of sensory neurons and the neurons that connect them to the nerve cord, spinal cord and brain, which make up the central nervous system. In response to stimuli, sensory neurons generate and propagate signals to the central nervous system which then processes and conducts signals back to the muscles and glands. The neurons of the nervous systems of animals are interconnected in complex arrangements and use electrochemical signals and neurotransmitters to transmit impulses from one neuron to the next. The interaction of the different neurons form neural circuits regulate an organism's perception of the world and what is going on with its body, thus regulating its behavior. Nervous systems are found in many multicellular animals but differ greatly in complexity between species.

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