Specialization

Reflecting its diverse tasks, the nervous system is specialized, from the single neuron to each brain region. Specialized subsystems analyze sensations. They differ in some ways, but data processing is progressive and networked in all. Neurons and the neuroglia have special shapes and roles, but both enjoy all criteria for cells and work in concert. Less obvious but equally specialized are subsystems for other functions: sleep-wakefulness, alertness, attention, affect, collating pages of a report, reading out loud from a book, self-awareness, brain damage control, and so on ad infinitum.

Ubiquitous specializations include those for high nerve conduction velocity (large axon diameter, thick myelin sheath), space-saving bundling (small axon diameter, thin myelin sheath, shared sheaths), short latency response (monosynaptic reflex), staggered, persistent latencies (parallel side chaining of long-axoned neurons), dependability (neuron redundancy), feature analysis (parallel processing), effect monitoring (feedback circuits), and force multiplication (feedforward circuits). The neurons performing such tasks and the neuroglia backing them up are as specialized as these many diversified services. For neurons and the neuroglia, form indeed reflects function.

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