The Nervous System

Your nervous system guides almost everything you do, think, say or feel. It controls complicated processes like movement, thought and memory. It also plays an essential role in the things your body does without thinking, such as breathing, blushing and blinking.

Your nervous system affects every aspect of your health, including your:

  • Thoughts, memory, learning, and feelings
  • Movements, such as balance and coordination
  • Senses, including how your brain interprets what you see, hear, taste, touch and feel
  • Sleep, healing and aging
  • Heartbeat and breathing patterns
  • Response to stressful situations
  • Digestion, as well as how hungry and thirsty you feel
  • Body processes, such as puberty

This complex system is the command center for your body. It regulates your body’s systems and allows you to experience your environment.

A vast network of nerves sends electrical signals to and from other cells, glands, and muscles all over your body. These nerves receive information from the world around you. Then the nerves interpret the information and control your response. It’s almost like an enormous information highway running throughout your body.

The nervous system has two main parts. Each part contains billions of cells called neurons, or nerve cells. These special cells send and receive electrical signals through your body to tell it what to do.


The main parts of the nervous system are:

Central nervous system (CNS): Your brain and spinal cord make up your CNS. Your brain uses your nerves to send messages to the rest of your body. Each nerve has a protective outer layer called myelin. Myelin insulates the nerve and helps the messages get through.

Peripheral nervous system: Your peripheral nervous system consists of many nerves that branch out from your CNS all over your body. This system relays information from your brain and spinal cord to your organs, arms, legs, fingers and toes. Your peripheral nervous system contains your:

Somatic nervous system, which guides your voluntary movements.
Autonomic nervous system, which controls the activities you do without thinking about them.

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