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 The human nervous system is the most complex product of biological evolution. The constantly
changing patterns of activity of its billions of interactive units represent the fundamental
physical basis of every aspect of human behavior and experience.
 Nervous system is the chief controlling and coordinating system of the body. It controls and
regulates all activities of the body, whether voluntary or involuntary, and adjusts the individual
(organism) to the given surroundings.
 Properties of nervous system
i. sensitivity,
ii. conductivity and
iii. responsiveness
 The nervous system is conventionally divided into two major parts, the central nervous system
(CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord.
The PNS consists of the cranial and spinal nerves and their ramifications, and certain groupings
of cell bodies that constitute the peripheral ganglia.

The non-excitable supporting cells of the nervous system form a major component of the
nervous tissue. These cells include the following.
1. Neuroglial cells, found in the parenchyma of brain and spinal cord.
2. Ependymal cells lining the internal cavities or ventricles.
3. Capsular or satellite cells, surrounding neurons of the sensory and autonomic ganglia.
4. Schwann cells, forming sheaths for axons of peripheral nerves.
5. Several types of supporting cells, ensheathing the motor and sensory nerve terminals, and
supporting the sensory epithelia.
The neuroglial cells, found in the parenchyma of brain and spinal cord, are broadly classified as :
A. Macroglia, of ectodermal (neural) origin, comprising astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and
B. Microglia, of mesodermal origin. All glial cells are much smaller but far more numerous than
the nerve cells.
(a) Astrocytes: As the name suggests, these cells are star-shaped because of their numerous
processes radiating in all directions. Astrocytes are of two types. Protoplasmic astrocytes, with
thick and symmetrical processes are found in the grey matter. Fibrous astrocytes, with thin and
asymmetrical processes, are found in the white matter. The processes of astrocytes often end in
plate-like expansions on the blood vessels, ependyma, and pial surface of the CNS . The
functions of various glial cells are enumerated below.
Oligodendrocytes: As the name suggests these cells have fewer cell processes. According to
their distribution, the oligodendrocytes may be intrafascicular, or perineuronal. The
intrafascicular cells are found in the myelinated tracts. The perineuronal cells are seen on the
surface of the somata of neurons.
Glioblast: These are stem cells which can differentiate into macroglial cells. They are particularly
numerous beneath the ependyma.
Microglia: These are the smallest of the glial cells which have a flattened cell body with a few
short, fine processes. They are often related to capillaries, and are said to be phagocytic in
nature. Microglial cells are possibly derived from the circulating monocytes which migrate into
the CNS during the late foetal and early postnatal life.
Functions of Glial and Ependymal Cells
1. They provide mechanical support to neurons.
2. Because of their non-conducting nature, the glial cells act as nsulators between the neurons
and prevent neuronal impulses from spreading in unwanted directions.
3. They can remove the foreign material and cell debris by phagocytosis.
4. They can repair the damaged areas of nervous tissue. By proliferation (gliosis) they form glial
scar tissue, and fill the gaps left by degenerated neurons.
5. Glial cells can take up and store neurotransmitters released by the neighbouring synapses.
These can either be metabolized or released again from the glial cells.
6. They help in neuronal functions by maintaining a suitable metabolic and ionic environment
for the neurons.
7. Oligodendrocytes myelinate tracts.
8. Ependymal cells are concerned with exchanges of materials between brain and CSF.
 PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM consist of peripheral nerves and spinal nerves
The PERIPHERAL NERVES are solid white cords composed of bundles (fasciculi) of nerve fibres.
Each nerve fibre is an axon with its coverings. The nerve fibres are supported and bound
together by connective tissue sheaths at different levels of organization of the nerve. The whole
nerve trunk is ensheathed by epineurium, each fasciculus by perineurium, and each nerve fibre
by a delicate endoneurium. The toughness of a nerve is due to its fibrous sheaths, otherwise the
nerve tissue itself is very delicate and friable
SPINAL NERVES There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, including 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5
sacral, and 1 coccygeal.
 The autonomic nervous system, which may be subdivided into sympathetic and
parasympathetic components, consists of neurones that innervate secretory glands, cardiac and
smooth muscle and are therefore concerned primarily with control of the internal environment.