1) Compare and contrast the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Analyze the division’s locations within the brain and the role each plays in its functioning.
2) Describe the functions of CSF within the ventricular system. How does the CSF relate to the functions within the cranial nerves and the spinal cord?
Compare and contrast the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Analyze the division’s locations within the brain and the role each plays in its functioning.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls involuntary body functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, salivation, perspiration, pupil dilation, and sexual arousal, among other things. It has two primary divisions: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Sympathetic Nervous System:
The SNS is often described as the body’s “fight or flight” system. It prepares the body to respond to emergencies, stress, or physical activity. Key functions stimulated by the SNS include an accelerated heart rate, dilated pupils, inhibited digestion, and the release of glucose for energy.
The SNS’s primary outflow is from the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord. However, the control centers for the sympathetic division are located in the brain, specifically within the hypothalamus, the brainstem, and the spinal cord.
Parasympathetic Nervous System:
The PNS, on the other hand, is often referred to as the “rest and digest” system. It promotes functions that occur when the body is at rest, including digestion, salivation, tear production, urination, and sexual arousal. Key functions of the PNS include a slowed heart rate, constricted pupils, and stimulated digestive activity.
The PNS’s primary outflow is from the cranial nerves and sacral region of the spinal cord. The primary control centers for the parasympathetic division are located in the brain, within the medulla oblongata, and in the sacral region of the spinal cord.
Comparison and Analysis:
While the SNS and PNS have different functions, they work together to maintain the body’s homeostasis. The SNS generally activates the body’s resources to respond to threats or stress— it’s about mobilizing energy, while the PNS typically conserves the body’s resources and maintains daily physiological functions—it’s about conserving energy.
Both systems have control centers in the brain and project similar organs in the body, but they often have opposite effects on those organs. For instance, the SNS speeds up the heart rate, while the PNS slows it down. It is this balance of opposing effects that allows the body to respond appropriately to changing conditions.
Describe the functions of CSF within the ventricular system. How does the CSF relate to the functions within the cranial nerves and the spinal cord?
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear, colorless body fluid found within the brain and spinal cord. It is produced in the choroid plexus within the ventricular system, a set of four interconnected cavities (ventricles) in the brain where the CSF is produced.
The CSF has several crucial functions in the central nervous system:
- Buoyancy: The brain and spinal cord are immersed in CSF, which provides a fluid cushion that reduces the effective weight of the brain. This buoyancy protects the brain from injury by keeping it from crushing under its own weight against the skull.
- Protection: The CSF acts as a shock absorber, protecting the brain and spinal cord from trauma.
- Chemical Stability: CSF flows throughout the brain and the spinal cord, providing a stable chemical environment and removing waste products.
- Prevention of Brain Ischemia: By adjusting to changes in the pressure condition, the CSF system can help to prevent brain ischemia.
- Delivery of Nutrients: CSF also helps to deliver nutrients to the brain and remove waste products.
The relationship between CSF and cranial nerves is primarily one of proximity and protection. The cranial nerves, which originate in the brain, are surrounded by CSF throughout their course within the subarachnoid space of the brain and spinal cord. This cushioning protects these nerves from damage.
Similarly, the CSF surrounds the entire length of the spinal cord, providing a cushion for the cord and serving a similar function of waste removal and nutrient delivery. The CSF space in the spinal cord, known as the central canal, is contiguous with the ventricular system in the brain, ensuring a constant flow of CSF.
Therefore, CSF plays a vital role in maintaining the health and integrity of the nervous system, including both the cranial nerves and the spinal cord, and any disruption in the normal production, circulation, or absorption of CSF can lead to a variety of neurological conditions.