Basic Neurology 101

The Nerve Center

The central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system make up the signaling conduits of the body. Neurotransmitters are sent from the brain to reach different organs of the body. The central nervous system operates through the spinal cord while the peripheral nervous system goes directly from the brain to the different parts of the body. When the central nervous system is impacted, it leads to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Neurological disorders can include:

  1. Loss of coordination
  2. Seizures
  3. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  4. Autism
  5. Alzheimer’s disease
  6. Obsessive compulsive disorder

Causes of Neurological Conditions

Poor coordination is related to the brain. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls movement. Seizures are also related to excessive activation and functionality of the nerve cells. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neuro-developmental psychiatric disorder whose causes are still not clear. Autism is related to the way that the nerve cells transmit information to each other. Its cause is also not yet fully clear, with a few theories being proposed involving environmental factors. Alzheimer’s disease occurs when the structure of the neurons is impacted by age leading to impact in functionality. Parkinson’s disease is also caused by neuro-degeneration. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is related to the mind and not to the nervous system, but it is linked in some cases to an injury to the nervous system. A neurologist will be equipped to treat all of these disorders except OCD; that is fully in the realm of psychiatry.

Number of neurological illnesses

The signaling of the neurons takes place via junctions known as synapses. Neurotransmitters that are released in the brain travel through the nerves and achieve actions that are related to the way that the body maintains its posture and the mind responds to different situations such as danger or stress. The number of disorders that the nervous system can present is more than 600. For this interested in this ever-changing field, The World Congress of Neurology has just concluded its 22nd edition. It is held every two years. The next Congress is scheduled to be held in Japan in 2017.

Ever-active nervous system

While we have seen so far neurological conditions that are related to the conscious state, the nervous system is also active during the unconscious state. This can be both when we are awake and when are asleep. This is how the heart rate is regulated and how digestion is controlled. Another aspect of the nervous system is the way that it controls the body’s reactions to sensations from the body. This can happen when you are out in the cold and the nervous system gets you to shiver so that you generate warmth. This part of the nervous system has one part that is in charge of movements and another that is tasked with responding to sensations. The eyes, nose, ear and tongue have nerves that are connected to the brain stem. While a neurologist will treat a neurological disorder, a neurosurgeon performs surgery and not the former. A neurologist can help you with anything from a headache to a sleep disorder and further on to epilepsy and infections of the brain such as encephalitis and meningitis.

The complexity of and interconnectedness of the neural system is a giant puzzle in which only some of the pieces have been placed together. This vast field is rich with new research, and is constantly evolving.

Do you understand how the neural system works at its most basic level?

Author: Joan Evans

Joan Evans is a mental health specialist and has a great interest in personality disorders. In her spare time she likes to go to the woods with her golden retriever, Leroy, and write fiction.

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