Nervous system (vertebrate)
Northcutt, R. Glenn Department of Anatomy, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Noback, Charles R. Department of Anatomy, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Kallen, Bengt Department of Embryology, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden.
Last reviewed:June 2018
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- Comparative morphology
- Spinal patterns
- Medullar patterns
- Cerebellar patterns
- Tectal patterns
- Diencephalic patterns
- Telencephalic patterns
- Comparative histology
- Connective tissue cells
- Comparative embryology
- Spinal cord
- Cranial nerves
- Spinal nerves
- Autonomic nervous system
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A coordinating and integrating system that functions in the adaptation of a vertebrate organism to its environment. The assemblages of cells that are specialized by their shape and function to act as the major coordinating organ of the body comprise the nervous system. Nervous tissue underlies the ability to sense the environment, to move and react to stimuli, and to generate and control all behavior of the organism. In general, an environmental stimulus causes a response in an organism when specialized structures (receptors) are excited. Excitations are conducted by nerves to effectors that act to adapt the organism to the changed conditions of the environment. With regard to the vertebrates, the nervous system (Fig. 1) consists of the brain, brainstem, spinal cord, cranial and peripheral nerves, and ganglia. The brain and spinal cord together comprise the central nervous system, whereas the nerves and ganglia that leave the brain and spinal cord constitute the peripheral nervous system. See also: Brain; Central nervous system; Cranial nerve; Ganglion; Nerve; Sensation; Sense organ; Spinal cord
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