Introduction

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The nervous system is broadly divided into the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system. The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord, which are enclosed by the meninges and enclosed within bone of the skull and the spinal column, respectively. The brain is composed of the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem. The cerebrum includes the cerebral hemispheres, basal ganglia and thalamus, while the brain stem consists of the mid-brain, pons and medulla oblongata. The spinal cord carries sensory information from the peripheral nervous system to the brain, and motor information from the brain to the muscles and glands.

The brain processes and integrates sensory inputs and controls and co-ordinates motor output. The brain and spinal cord are both broadly comprised of white matter, representing myelinated axons within a matrix of glial cells, and grey matter, representing cell bodies and dendrites with connecting axons and synapses.

The peripheral nervous system, lying outside the dura mater, comprises the somatic or spinal nerves and the visceral or autonomic nerves. The 12 paired cranial nerves may be either part of the central or the peripheral nervous system. There is a close relation between structure and function in the nervous system.

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