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The Functions of the Nervous System

The nervous system is the main controlling and communicating system of the body.  Every thing we do, feel and think consciously or unconsciously is directed by the nervous system.  The communication between the nervous system and the body is through electrical and chemical signals that move rapidly and to specific areas allowing for immediate response.

There are three overlapping functions of the nervous system.  The first function is the gathering of information from the sensory receptors that monitor changes occurring internally and externally of the body.  These receptors relay information called sensory input to the nervous system.

The second function of the nervous system is the integration of this information.  The sensory input is processed and the nervous system decides on how to respond every bit of information it receives.

The third function of the nervous system is the actual response, called motor output, which is made from the acquired sensory input.  The response usually activates the muscles and glands in the body.

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord.  It is considered the command center of the nervous system and is responsible for interpreting sensory input and relaying the motor responses to the body based on natural reflexes, current conditions, and previous experiences.

The peripheral nervous system is located outside of the central nervous system and extends from the brain and spinal cord.  This system carries impulses to and from the spinal cord and to and from the brain.  The nerves associated with this system link the body to the central nervous system.

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