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Central nervous system

Anatomy and Physiology of:

ANA 2103

Dr. Joshua Nfambi

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Introduction to CNS
Neurons and nervous tissue
Impulse generation and conduction

Dr. Joshua Nfambi

ANA 2102
◦ Anatomy of the head and neck

ANA 2103
◦ Anatomy and Physiology of the
central nervous system

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Objectives to:
 Describe the components and structure of the central
nervous system
 Describe the development of the central nervous system
and congenital anomalies
 Describe the functions of the central nervous system
 Describe the sensory and motor functions of the central
nervous system
 Describe the coordination of posture and movement
 Perform functional tests used to assess the central
nervous system
 Describe the normal radiological anatomy of the central
nervous system using the various imaging modalities

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Course content
 Organization of the Nervous system
 Neurons
 Synapses
 Neurotransmitters
 General Senses (Less special senses: CHS

 Sensory system and the ascending tracts
 1st,2nd, 3rd order neurons
 Motor system and the descending tracts
 The Basal ganglia

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Course content continued

 Cerebral cortex, Brain stem, Spinal cord

Cerebellum, Pons and Hindbrain
 Muscle tone, reflexes and the reflex arc
 Special modalities and the midbrain

◦ Pain
◦ Temperature
 Limbic system
◦ Sleep and wakefulness (Reticular Activating System)
 Autonomic nervous system
◦ Control of respiration and heartbeat
 Clinical correlates

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Course content continued

 Blood supply of the brain and spinal cord

 Meninges
 Ventricular system and circulation of cerebral
spinal fluid
 Chemistry of cerebral spinal fluid
 Cortical localizations
 Cranial nerve nuclei and intracranial nerve
 Spinal cord
 Thalamus and hypothalamus

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 Tutorials
 Lectures
 Dissection
 Class assignments
 Practicals

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The Nervous system

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Organization of the Nervous
 Central nervous system (CNS)
◦ Brain and spinal cord
◦ Integration and command center
 Peripheral nervous system (PNS)
◦ Paired spinal and cranial nerves
◦ Carries messages to and from the spinal
cord and brain

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 Neural tube
 Caudal end stretches to form the spinal cord
 Cranial end expands, divides and enlarges

◦ Procencephalon (fore brain)
◦ Mesencephalon (mid brain)
◦ Rhombencephalon (hind brain)
 5th week
◦ Five parts

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Brain Development

a. Consists of 3 layers of
cells: endoderm,
mesoderm, and
ectoderm. Thickening of
the ectoderm leads to the
development of the
neural plate
b. The neural groove begins
to develop at 20 days.

At about 18 days after conception the embryo begins

to implant in the uterine wall
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Brain Development
c. At 22 days the neural
groove closes along the
length of the embryo making
the neural tube.

d. A few days later 4 major

divisions of the brain are
observable – the
telencephalon, diencephalon,
mesencephalon, and

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Phases of brain
◦ Neural plate induction

◦ Neural proliferation

◦ Migration & Aggregation

◦ Axon growth & Synapse formation

◦ Cell death & Synapse rearrangement

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Induction of the Neural
 2-3 weeks after conception
 A patch of tissue on the dorsal surface of
the embryo that will become the nervous
 Development induced by chemical signals
Growth factors: A group of chemicals produced
in developing and mature brain that stimulate
neuron development and help neurons respond
to injury

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Neural Plate
 Totipotent (zygote) –

 Fertilized ovum has ability to divide and produce all cells of

the body (brain, kidney, liver, skin, bone etc.)
 Can produce a whole animal

 Pluripotent:
 5 days after fertilization = blastocyst forms, some of these cells are
embryonic“stem cells”. Can be taken and differentiated into any organ ?

 With the development of the neural tube, cells become

multipotent – able to develop into any type of mature
nervous system cell

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2. Mitosis/Proliferation

 Proliferation –
 Generation of new cells

 3 swellings at the anterior

end in humans will
become the forebrain,
midbrain, and hindbrain

•Occurs in ventricular zone

•Rate can be 250,000/min
•After mitosis “daughter” cells
become “fixed” post mitotic

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3. Migration
slow movement of cell bodies to the “right
Only a soma and immature
axon at this point
-undifferentiated at start of
But, differentiation begins as
neurons migrate.
They develop
neurotransmitter making
ability, action potential

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3. Migration
Radial Glia
Radial glial cells act as
guide wires for the
migration of neurons
Migrating cells are
immature, lacking
Cells that are done
migrating align themselves
with other cells and form
structures (Aggregation)

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Growth Cones
Tips of axons on migrating, immature neurons

Growth cones crawl forward as they

elaborate the axons training behind
them. Their extension is controlled by
chemical cues in their outside
environment that ultimately direct
them toward their appropriate targets
Chemorepellants Vs

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4. Axon Growth/Synaptogenesis

 Once migration is complete

and structures have formed
(aggregation), axons and
dendrites begin to grow to
their “mature” size/shape
 Axons (with growth cones on
end) and dendrites form a
synapse with other neurons
or tissue (e.g. muscle)

Growth cones and chemo

attractants are critical for

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4. Synaptogenesis

 Formation of new synapses

 Depends on the presence of glial cells –

especially astrocytes

 Chemical signal exchange between pre-

and postsynaptic neurons is needed

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5. Neuronal Death
 Between 40-75% neurons made, will die
after migration – death is normal and
necessary !!

 Neurons die due to failure to compete for

chemicals provided by targets

 Neurotrophins –
 Promote growth and survival
 Guide axons
 Stimulate synaptogenesis

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Synaptic rearrangement

Release and uptake Neurons receiving Axonal processes

of neurotrophic insufficient neurotropic compete for limited
factors factor die neurotrophic factor

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Synaptic rearrangment, cont’d:

Time after synaptogenesis

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Postnatal Cerebral Development Human

 Postnatal growth is a consequence of

◦ Synaptogenesis
◦ Increased dendritic branches
◦ Myelination (prefrontal cortex continues into

 Overproduction of synapses may underlie the

greater “plasticity” of the young brain

 Young brain more able to recover function after injury,

as compared to older brain

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Major divisions of the developing
3 parts
5 parts
14 parts

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Central Nervous System
Brain and spinal cord
Necessary for the maintenance of homeostasis
Contains 1011 neurons
Contains 1014 synapses
Responsible for everything we perceive, do,
feel, and think

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Parts of the Brain
 Cerebral
 Diencephalon
◦ Thalamus
◦ Hypothalamus
◦ Epithalamus
 Brain stem
◦ Midbrain
◦ Pons
◦ Medulla
 Cerebellum
 Spinal cord

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Cerebral Features
Gyri – Elevated ridges “winding” around the brain

Sulci – Small grooves dividing the gyri

Central Sulcus – Divides the Frontal Lobe from the Parietal Lobe

Fissures – Deep grooves, generally dividing large regions/lobes of the


Longitudinal Fissure – Divides the two Cerebral Hemispheres

Transverse Fissure – Separates the Cerebrum from the Cerebellum

Sylvian/Lateral Fissure – Divides the Temporal Lobe from the Frontal

and Parietal Lobes

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Specific Sulci/Fissures:
Central Sulcus


l Fissure


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Cell types
 Neurons
 Glia cells
◦ Astrocytes
◦ Microglia
◦ Ependymal cells
◦ Oligodendrocytes

◦ Satellite cells
◦ Schwann cells

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Glial Cells
 90% of CNS composed of glia
 Types of glial cells

◦ Astrocyte—numerous functions
◦ Ependymal cells—line cavities
◦ Microglia—phagocytes
◦ Oligodendrocytes—form neurilema
◦ Schwann cells (located in PNS)—form

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Glial Cells

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 Cell body (perikaryon):
◦ “Nutrition center”
◦ Cell bodies within CNS clustered into nuclei, and in PNS in
 Dendrites:
◦ Provide receptive area
◦ Transmit electrical impulses to cell body
 Axon:
◦ Conducts impulses away from cell body
◦ Axoplasmic flow:
 Proteins and other molecules are transported by rhythmic
contractions to nerve endings.
◦ Axonal transport:
 Employs microtubules for transport
 May occur in orthograde or retrograde direction

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Basic structure of the neuron

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Functional Classification of
 Based upon direction
impulses conducted.
 Sensory or afferent:
◦ Conduct impulses from
sensory receptors into
 Motor or efferent:
◦ Conduct impulses out of
CNS to effector organs.
 Association or
◦ Located entirely within
the CNS.
◦ Serve an integrative
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Structural Classification of Neurons
 Based on the number
of processes that
extend from cell body.
◦ Unipolar:
 One pole with both axon
and dendrites (only found
in embryonic life)
◦ Pseudounipolar:
 Short single process that
branches like a T
 Sensory neurons
◦ Bipolar neurons:
 Have 2 processes.
 Retina of the eye
◦ Multipolar:
 Have several dendrites and
1 axon.
 Motor neuron
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Classification (axon length)
 Golgi type I:
◦ Long axons; cell bodies in the central nervous
system and axons move to the peripheral organs
 Golgi type II:
◦ Short axons; found in the cerebral cortex and spinal

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CNS supporting cells
 Oligodendrocytes
 Astrocytes
 Microglia
 Ependymal cells

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◦ Process occurs mostly postnatally
◦ Each has extensions that form myelin sheaths
around several axons in the CNS
 Insulation.

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 Most abundant glial cell.
 Vascular processes
terminate in end-feet that
surround the capillaries.
 Stimulate tight junctions,
contributing to blood-brain
 Regulate external
environment of K+ and pH
 Take up K+ from ECF, NTs
released from axons, and
lactic acid (convert for ATP
◦ Other extensions adjacent to

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 Of mesodermal origin
 Small, ovoid cells with spiny processes
 Phagocytes that monitor the health of neurons
 Protect CNS from foreign matter through phagocytosis

◦ Bacteria
◦ Dead or injured cells
 Protect CNS from oxidative stress

Why does the CNS have its own “Immune system”?

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Ependymal cells
◦ Secrete CSF
◦ Line ventricles/ roof of the ventricles
◦ Function as neural stem cells
◦ Can divide and progeny differentiate

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PNS Supporting Cells
 Schwaan cells:
◦ Successive wrapping of the cell membrane
◦ Outer surface encased in glycoprotein basement
◦ Provide insulation
 Nodes of Ranvier:
◦ Unmyelinated areas between adjacent Schwaan
cells that produce nerve impulses.
 Satellite cells:
◦ Support neuron cell bodies within ganglia

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Nerve Regeneration
 Schwann cells:
◦ Act as phagocytes, as the distal neuronal portion
◦ Surrounded by basement membrane, form
regeneration tube:
 Serves as a guide for axon
 Send out chemicals that attract the growing axon
 Axon tip connected to cell body begins to grow
towards destination

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Nerve Regeneration
 CNS has limited
ability to
◦ Absence of
◦ Oligodendrocytes
molecules inhibit
neuronal growth.

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 Neurons do NOT divide by mitosis
 Promote neuron growth
 Nerve growth factors include:
◦ Nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived
neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial-derived
neurotrophic factor (GDNF), neurotrophin-3, and
 Fetus:
◦ Embryonic development of sensory neurons and
sympathetic ganglia (NGF and neurotrophin-3)

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 Adult:
◦ Maintenance of sympathetic ganglia (NGF)
◦ Mature sensory neurons need for regeneration
◦ Required to maintain spinal neurons (GDNF)
◦ Sustain neurons that use dopamine (GDNF)
 Myelin-associated inhibitory proteins:
◦ Inhibit axon regeneration

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Special Properties of
 Excitability--Action Potential in Axons
 Conduction--Action Potential in Axons
 Transmission--Synapses, Electrical &

 Integration--Postsynaptic Cell
 Plasticity--Presynaptic Terminal and

Postsynaptic Membrane

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Brain protection
1 . Meninges
2. Cerebrospinal fluid
3. Blood brain barrier

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Cerebrospinal Fluid

 Made in choroid plexuses (roofs of ventricles)

◦ Filtration of plasma from capillaries through ependymal
cells (electrolytes, glucose)
 500 ml/d; total volume 100-160 ml (1/2 c)
 Cushions and nourishes brain
 Hydrocephalus: excessive accumulation of CSF

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CSF circulation: through ventricles, median and lateral apertures,
subarachnoid space, arachnoid villi, and into the blood of the superior
sagittal sinus

-Made in choroid plexus
-Drained through arachnoid villus
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 Central cavities expanded
 Filled with CSF (cerebrospinal fluid)

 Lined by ependymal cells “these cells lining

the choroid plexus make the CSF”

 Continuous with each other and central canal

of spinal cord
Four ventricles
 2 lateral ventricles

 Third ventricle

 Fourth ventricle

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Blood-Brain Barrier
 Composed of endothelial cells packed
tightly together to form tight junctions that
prevent passage of most molecules
 An underlying basement membrane and

specialized glial cells (astrocytes), which

project processes (pedicels) that attach to
the walls of the capillary, reinforce this

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Blood brain barrier

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Transport across the BBB
 Certain parts of the brain are not protected by the BBB
◦ Pineal gland, which secretes melatonin directly into the systemic
◦ Chemoreceptor trigger zone
 Water is able to freely diffuse
 Glucose (the primary energy source of the brain) and amino
acids require carrier-mediated transport
 Nonpolar lipid-soluble substances (free unconjugated
bilirubin) cross more readily than polar water-soluble ones
 Allows nutrients, O2, CO2
 Active transport systems are present to pump weak organic
acids, halides, and extracellular K+ across the BBB
 It is NOT a barrier against uncharged and lipid soluble
molecules; allows alcohol, nicotine, and some drugs including

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Blood-CSF barrier
 Composed of epithelial cells of the highly
vascular choroid plexus located within the
 Cells are connected through tight junctions
 The choroid plexus produces CSF
 Tight junctions between the cells serve to

selectively allow substances access to the

 Transport mechanisms across the BCB are

similar to those of the BBB

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The spinal cord
The Spinal Cord
 Foramen magnum to L1 or L2
 Runs through the vertebral canal of the
vertebral column

 Functions
1. Major center for reflexes
2. Sensory and motor innervation of entire body
inferior to the head through the spinal nerves
3. Two-way conduction pathway between the
body and the brain

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Spinal Cord
 Cylinder of nerve
 Continuous with

 Surrounded by

vertebral column
 Origin of spinal

nerves (31 pairs)

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Spinal nerves
 Divided based on vertebral locations
 8 cervical
 12 thoracic
 5 lumbar
 5 sacral
 1 coccygeal
 Cauda equina “horse’s tail”: collection of

nerve roots at inferior end of vertebral canal

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Spinal nerves
 Note: cervical spinal nerves exit
from above the respective
◦ Spinal nerve root 1 from above C1
◦ Spinal nerve root 2 from between C1
and C2, etc.
 Symptoms usually indicate which
level is affected

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 Sensory region
of skin
 Each served by

spinal nerve

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Protection: Meninges
3 meninges: CSF (cerebrospinal fluid)
dura mater (outer)
arachnoid mater (middle)
pia mater (inner)
3 potential spaces
epidural: outside dura
subdural: between dura &
subarachnoid: deep to

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Spinal Cord and Spinal
 Gray matter: functional halves
◦ Dorsal: sensory functions
◦ Ventral: motor functions
 Spinal nerves are mixed
 White matter forms tracts

◦ Ascending
◦ Descending

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Spinal Cord: Cross Section

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Functions of the CNS
 Are to process and coordinate:
◦ Sensory data:
 from inside and outside body
◦ Motor commands:
 control activities of peripheral organs (e.g., skeletal
◦ Higher functions of brain:
 intelligence, memory, learning, emotion

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The Peripheral Nervous
 Includes all neural tissue outside the CNS
(nerves that control muscles and glands)

 Functions of the PNS

1. Deliver sensory information to the CNS
2. Carry motor commands to peripheral
tissues and systems

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 Also called peripheral nerves:
◦ bundles of axons with connective tissues and blood
◦ carry sensory information and motor commands in
 cranial nerves—connect to brain
 spinal nerves—attach to spinal cord

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PNS divisions
 Somatic nervous system (SNS)
◦ Controls skeletal muscle contractions:
 voluntary muscle contractions
 involuntary muscle contractions (reflexes)

 Autonomic nervous system (ANS)

◦ Controls subconscious actions:
 contractions of smooth muscle and cardiac muscle
 glandular secretions

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Divisions of the ANS
 Sympathetic division:
◦ has a stimulating effect
 Parasympathetic division:
◦ has a relaxing effect

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Thank You

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