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Central Nervous System

The brain and spinal cord. Also called CNS.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

Drawing of the outline of a body showing the nervous system with descriptions of each of the four types of nerves. Cranial nerves go from your brain to your eyes, mouth, ears, and other parts of your head. Central nerves are in your brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nerves go from your spinal cord to your arms, hands, legs, and feet. Autonomic nerves go from your spinal cord to your lungs, heart, stomach, intestines, bladder, and sex organs. Click to enlarge

The 4 main parts of the nervous system National Institutes of Health

About the Central Nervous System

The nervous system has two parts, called the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system due to their location in the body.

The central nervous system (CNS) includes the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It is safely contained within the skull and vertebral canal of the spine.

All of the other nerves in the body are part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)... Read more about the Central Nervous System

Terms to know

Autonomic Nervous System (Involuntary Nervous System)
The part of the nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart) and glands. One part of the autonomic nervous system helps the body rest, relax, and digest food and another part helps a person fight or take flight in an emergency.
Brain
The part of the central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium).
Cranial Nerves
Cranial nerves are nerves emerging directly from the brain, in contrast to spinal nerves (which emerge from various segments of the spinal cord). Cranial nerves exchange information between the brain and parts of the body, primarily to and from regions of the head and neck.
Meninges
The three thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Nerves
A bundle of fibers that receives and sends messages between the body and the brain. The messages are sent by chemical and electrical changes in the cells that make up the nerves.
Nervous System
An organ system that coordinates the activities of muscles, monitors organs, constructs and processes data received from the senses and initiates actions.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
The part of the nervous system that slows the heart, dilates blood vessels, decreases pupil size, increases digestive juices, and relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.
Peripheral Nervous System
The nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.
Skull
The skeleton of the head including the bones of the face and the bones enclosing the brain.
Spinal Cord
A column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes, and is enclosed within the vertebrae (back bones). The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system, and spinal cord nerves carry most messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Spinal Nerves
A spinal nerve carries signals between the spinal cord and the body. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, one on each side of the vertebral column.
Spine
The bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The spine encloses the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Also called backbone, spinal column, and vertebral column.
Sympathetic Nervous System
The part of the nervous system that increases heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pupil size. It also causes blood vessels to narrow and decreases digestive juices.

Terms to know

Autonomic Nervous System (Involuntary Nervous System)
The part of the nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart) and glands. One p...
Brain
The part of the central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium)....
Cranial Nerves
Cranial nerves are nerves emerging directly from the brain, in contrast to spinal nerves (which emerge from v...
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