Nervous System Organization

The nervous system may be the best example of "the whole is more than the sum of its parts.'' Even accounting for the fact that the behavior of individual neurons is much more complex than described above, it is difficult to explain our higher behaviors, such as language, abstract reasoning, and self-consciousness, in terms of them. That is a far greater task than explaining the functioning of a computer in terms of the action of individual transistors. Those higher behaviors depend on neuronal activity, but in ways far from well understood and beyond our scope here, in any case. Here we can only summarize the basic organization of the nervous system.

The nervous system can be divided into a central nervous system (CNS) and a peripheral nervous system (PNS) (Figure 9.4). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS performs integration of information and coordination of actions. The actual source of information and distributor of commands to the body is the PNS, which includes all of the other neurons in the body.

Autonomic Nervous System

Parasympathetic

Sympathetic

Autonomic Nervous System

Parasympathetic

Sympathetic

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