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-The How's And Whys Of Your Inner Workings-The Brain (part 4)

01/22/2007 - By Tom Blasco

NERVES; PLAY THEIR ROLE:
      They are the extensions of the brain. Do not try to understand their function. You must know that they are there and are an intrical part of your development.

      The Nervous System is comprised of the Central Nervous System (CNS) (the brain and spinal cord) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) (all the nerves branching out from the CNS and reach the farthest extremities of your body (toes, fingers, nose, etc)). The PNS is feel; messages and information from the sensor motor neurons, which cause things to happen and get things done in both the CNS and PNS. The sensory neurons send danger signals to the CNS and the motor neurons carry messages from the CNS to the body parts that must react, such as a car coming head on (sensory neurons activate; danger to CNS); jump out of the way (motor neurons - CNS to legs - leap, get out of the way).

      The PNS through motor neurons activate the Somatic (Skeletal) and Autonomic systems. The Somatic System, as part of the PNS has the job to make muscles move on orders from the brain. It includes actions we consciously decide to do, such as putting your foot on the approach, picking up your ball; taking your stance, etc. It controls your voluntary muscle movements. The Autonomic system regulates involuntary muscle actions, such as heart beat, which happens without our thinking about it. It manages out internal operations. With little or no awareness or direction on our part the more important work of the PNS is being done. It control our internal behavior and lets our external behavior operate normally. It automatically adjusts our heart rate and breathing when we are active an slows us down when we sit down. The Autonomic system is divided into tow subsystems: a sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system speeds up. It take over in emergencies and stress. It get us ready for Fight or Flight. Under stress our pupils dilate to allow more light into our eyes, the heart beats faster, breathing deepens, digestion slows, blood pressure rises, blood move to the limbs and brain, and blood sugar rises. This system mobilizes us for maximum use of energy. Under stress it is the dominate system. The para-sympathetic system slows down after running or you get control of yourself. This system stores and conserve energy. Its role is to keep our internal organs and glands working at a normal rate. Got scared, this system urges rest and recuperation. It slows the heart rate and breathing, narrows the pupils of the eyes, direct blood to internal organs and lowers blood pressure. Under relaxation this is the dominate system.

      Your nervous system allows us to register external and internal conditions and responds to them. It is the body's operations and communications network controlled by the brain. It runs our lives. It carries out our conscious commands to our body. It manages the many complex automatic function of the body, such as heart rate, breathing, circulation, digestion, regulates internal temperature and combats infection and disease. In some activities, it joins forces with the endocrine system, whose hormones and other chemical messages play a part in regulating the unconscious operation of the body.

      You can override the autonomic nervous system. Yoga experts can change heart rate, slow metabolism, lower body temperature, and lower blood pressure.

NERVES AND PICKING UP YOUR BALL:
      Nerves carry information in only one direction at a time, which means that both - pathways are almost always in use at any one time in the nervous system. The sensory nerves pick up information from sensors in the skin, eyes, feet, tongue, nostrils, joints, muscles and carry it to the Central Nervous System (CNS). For each sensory nerve pathway there is usually a motor nerve pathway along which direction from the brain and spinal cord move to arouse a muscle action.

      When the thinking part of the brain, the cortex decides to pick up the ball, messages go out on the motor nerves that serve your hands. They tell the hands how to move toward the ball. These directions are aided by information that has come to the brain by way of the optic nerve. As you pick up the ball, sensor nerves in your fingers and hands report your action and motor nerves send orders to your fingers about the amount of pressure to apply to the ball.

      Just standing still, something that most of us take for granted involves a constant flow of reports form sensory nerves in the joints, muscles, skin and organs of balance in the inner ear. They must than be acted upon with messages to the muscles involved. This activity sends millions of messages via billions of nerve cells.

      Your nervous system allows you to handle crisis after crisis. It control your liver, fine-tunes insulin secretions of your pancreas and gets just the right amount of blood with oxygen to all parts of the body. It controls sleep.

NERVES; CONSTANTLY CHANGING:
      Messages are constantly traveling from one nerve cell, or neuron to another. The nerve cells are the working units of the body used by the nervous system to send, receive and store signals that add up to information. The nerve cells are sometimes compared to a switchboard, but more sophisticated because they employ a unique blend of electricity and chemistry.

      There are two classes of cells in the brain and throughout the nervous system: the nerve cells, or neurons and non-neurons. The neurons are the brains excitable cells, the ones that send signals, while the non-neurals are non-excitable and support the neurons' work. The neurons main job is communication - sending and receiving information. There are more than 100 billion neurons in the brain working together.

SUPERIORITY OF THE BRAIN:
      We see with our brains. Our eyes take in light, which is an extension of the brain and is the most exposed part of our central nervous system. Light is filtered and focused before being translated into electrical impulses and sent by the optic nerve to the brain. These impulses go to the brain's vision center, the visual cortex located at the rear of the brain.

      The brain's functions are so complex, that it's living tissue will always possess unique abilities that even the most complex computer simulation will not be able to duplicate. A computer cannot deal with the variations in the world, no computer could operate with all the connections to the cortex. At one per second you'd be counting for 32 million years.

      For a computer to do what the brain does it will have to be able to process and compare information along hundreds or even thousands of pathways at once - like the brain's neural network. The neural network and a computer's intricate circuitry are similar, because each one sends information back and forth; groups and regroups information, stores it and uses it to solve problems; and both can be wrong, if the information is wrong.

      However, it in no way is as extra-ordinary as the human brain. The computers chief advantage is it's phenomenal speed. It can process large amounts of complex calculations in a matter of seconds. But the bottom line is - it's a machine built by humans that reacts to commands and supplied date.

      No computer can match the brain's simultaneous abilities to observe, imagine, initiate, anticipate and be inspired, nor can the computer constantly adapt to new situations, experiences or emotions.

      Computers are inferior to the brains of the simplest creature, when it comes to seeing, moving and responding. No computer can rival a fly. We have the unique ability to combine our thoughts with sensations, feelings and emotions. Our minds supply meaning and context to new situations as they arise.

THE BRAIN BEHIND THE BRAIN:
      The Hypothalamus in the brain is the command center which controls some of the bodies must complicated processes - breathing, digestion, circulation, growth, reproduction and repair on more or less and involuntary basis. The nervous system and endocrine systems control these functions. The nervous system sends, short messages, as brief as a thousandth of a second, by electrical impulse to produce rapid response. They travel at the rate of 650 feet per second. The endocrine system sends most messages relatively slowly by means of hormones to produce a lasting effect. Hormonal messages travel through out the bloodstream and may take several hours. Some cells have receptors for one or more hormones. This system is a collection of ductless glands throughout the body that secretes directly into the bloodstream. Hormone means set in motion. These glands are the pituitary, thyroid, thymus, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries or testes, plus others. There job is to control the internal environment not only of each cell and organ, but the entire body.

      You cannot fell hormones released into the body, but sometimes you can be very aware that a hormone has been released, I.e., when you blush. Adrenaline, the fastest hormonal message, acts immediate to prepare you for Fight or Flight. Your heart beat is stronger, your breathing deepens, perspiration increases to cool your body, your pupils dilate to sharpen your vision and your face turns pale as your blood vessels contract.

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