Pathways of the autonomic nervous system. Nerve impulses begin in motor neurons in the brain or elipsis
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System of specialized cells (neurons, or nerve cells) that conduct stimuli from a sensory receptor through a neuron network to the site (e.g., a gland or muscle) where the response occurs. In humans, it consists of the central and peripheral nervous systems, the former consisting of the brain and spinal cord and the latter of the nerves, which carry impulses to and from the central nervous system. The cranial nerves handle head and neck sensory and motor activities, except the vagus nerve, which conducts signals to visceral organs. Each spinal nerve is attached to the spinal cord by a sensory and a motor root. These exit between the vertebrae and merge to form a large mixed nerve, which branches to supply a defined area of the body. Disorders include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chorea, epilepsy, myasthenia gravis, neural tube defect, parkinsonism, and poliomyelitis. Effects of disorders range from transient tics and minor personality changes to major personality disruptions, seizures, paralysis, and death.
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The telencephalon gives rise to the striatum (caudate nucleus and putamen), the hippocampus and the neocortex, its cavity becomes the lateral ventricles (first and second ventricles). The diencephalon give rise to the subthalamus, hypothalamus, thalamus and epithalamus, its cavity to the third ventricle. The mesencephalon gives rise to the tectum, pretectum, cerebral peduncle and its cavity develops into the mesencephalic duct or cerebral aqueduct. Finally, the rhombencephalon gives rise to the pons, the cerebellum and the medulla oblongata, its cavity becomes the fourth ventricle.
The basic pattern of the CNS is highly conserved throughout the different species of vertebrates and during evolution. The major trend that can be observed is towards a progressive telencephalisation: while in the reptilian brain that region is only an appendix to the large olfactory bulb, it represents most of the volume of the mammalian CNS. In the human brain, the telencephalon covers most of the diencephalon and the mesencephalon. Indeed, the allometric study of brain size among different species shows a striking continuity from rats to whales, and allows us to complete the knowledge about the evolution of the CNS obtained through cranial endocasts.
Mammals – which appear in the fossil record after the first fishes, amphibians, and reptiles - are the only vertebrates to possess the evolutionarily recent, outermost part of the cerebral cortex known as the neocortex. The neocortex of monotremes (the duck-billed platypus and several species of spiny anteaters) as well as that of marsupials (such as kangaroos, koalas, opossums, wombats, Tasmanian devils, etc.) lack the convolutions - gyri and sulci - found in the neocortex of most placental mammals (eutherians). Within placental mammals, the size and complexity of the neocortex increased over time. The area of the neocortex of mice is only about 1/100 that of monkeys, and that of monkeys is only about 1/10 that of humans. In addition, rats lack convolutions in their neocortex (possibly also because they are small mammals), whereas the neocortex of cats has a moderate degree of convolutions, and that of humans exhibits quite extensive convolutions.
See also: Encephalization, Neocortex, Archicortex