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Medicine LibreTexts

10.1B: Functions of the Nervous System

  • Page ID
    7577
  • The primary function of the nervous system is to coordinate and control the various body functions.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Describe the functions of the nervous system

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • The nervous system is a highly integrated system. The nervous system has three overlapping functions based on sensory input, integration, and motor output.
    • At a more integrative level, the primary function of the nervous system is to control and communicate information throughout the body.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • hormone: A molecule released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages affecting cells in other parts of the organism.
    • nervous system: The organ system that coordinates the activities of muscles, monitors organs, constructs and processes data received from the senses, and initiates actions.

    The nervous system has three overlapping functions based on the sensory input,  integration, and motor output. The nervous system is a highly integrated system.

     

    Sensory Input

     

    Sensory input comes from the many sensory receptors that monitor changes occurring both inside and outside the body. The total sum of the information gathered by these receptors is called sensory input. The nervous system processes and interprets sensory input and decides what actions should be taken. The nervous system activates effector organs such as muscles and glands to cause a response called motor output.

     

    Integration

     

    At a more integrative level, the primary function of the nervous system is to control and communicate information throughout the body. It does this by extracting information from the environment using sensory receptors. This sensory input is sent to the central nervous system, which determines an appropriate response.

     

    Motor Response

     

    Once the response is activated, the nervous system sends signals via motor output to muscles or glands to initiate the response.

    In humans, the sophistication of the nervous system allows for language, abstract representation of concepts, transmission of culture, and many other features of society that would not otherwise exist.

    image

     

    Major elements in neuron-to-neuron communication: Electrical impulses travel along the axon of a neuron. When this signal reaches a synapse, it provokes release of neurotransmitter molecules, which bind to receptor molecules located in the the target cell.