AQA GCSE Biology

Revision Notes

5.2.1 Structure & Function

Nervous System: Basics

  • The human nervous system consists of:
    • Central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord
    • Peripheral nervous system (PNS) – all of the nerves in the body
  • The nervous system enables humans to react to their surroundings and to coordinate their behaviour
  • Information is sent through the nervous system as electrical impulses – electrical signals that pass along nerve cells known as neurones
  • A bundle of neurones is known as a nerve

Adaptations of the nervous system

  • Neurones have a cell body (where the nucleus and main organelles are found) and cytoplasmic extensions from this body called axons and dendrites
  • Some human neurones have axons over a metre in length (but only 1 – 4 micrometres wide)
  • This is far more efficient than having multiple neurones to convey information from the CNS to effectors – less time is wasted transferring electrical impulses from one cell to another
  • The axon is insulated by a fatty myelin sheath with small uninsulated sections along it (called nodes) which the impulse jumps along

The human nervous system, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

The human nervous system is comprised of the CNS and the PNS

Structure of the Nervous System

  • Information from receptors passes along cells (neurones) as electrical impulses to the central nervous system (CNS)
  • The CNS is the brain and spinal cord
  • The CNS coordinates the response of effectors which may be muscles contracting or glands secreting hormones
  • The pathway through the nervous system is:
stimulus → receptor → coordinator → effector → response

Author: Jenna

Jenna studied at Cardiff University before training to become a science teacher at the University of Bath specialising in Biology (although she loves teaching all three sciences at GCSE level!). Teaching is her passion, and with 10 years experience teaching across a wide range of specifications – from GCSE and A Level Biology in the UK to IGCSE and IB Biology internationally – she knows what is required to pass those Biology exams.
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