Anatomy of the Nervous System

Interactive Link Questions

1. 

Watch this animation to examine the development of the brain, starting with the neural tube. As the anterior end of the neural tube develops, it enlarges into the primary vesicles that establish the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. Those structures continue to develop throughout the rest of embryonic development and into adolescence. They are the basis of the structure of the fully developed adult brain. How would you describe the difference in the relative sizes of the three regions of the brain when comparing the early (25th embryonic day) brain and the adult brain?

  2. 

Watch this video to learn about the white matter in the cerebrum that develops during childhood and adolescence. This is a composite of MRI images taken of the brains of people from 5 years of age through 20 years of age, demonstrating how the cerebrum changes. As the color changes to blue, the ratio of gray matter to white matter changes. The caption for the video describes it as “less gray matter,” which is another way of saying “more white matter.” If the brain does not finish developing until approximately 20 years of age, can teenagers be held responsible for behaving badly?

  3. 

Watch this video to learn about the basal nuclei (also known as the basal ganglia), which have two pathways that process information within the cerebrum. As shown in this video, the direct pathway is the shorter pathway through the system that results in increased activity in the cerebral cortex and increased motor activity. The direct pathway is described as resulting in “disinhibition” of the thalamus. What does disinhibition mean? What are the two neurons doing individually to cause this?

  4. 

Watch this video to learn about the basal nuclei (also known as the basal ganglia), which have two pathways that process information within the cerebrum. As shown in this video, the indirect pathway is the longer pathway through the system that results in decreased activity in the cerebral cortex, and therefore less motor activity. The indirect pathway has an extra couple of connections in it, including disinhibition of the subthalamic nucleus. What is the end result on the thalamus, and therefore on movement initiated by the cerebral cortex?

  5. 

Watch this video to learn about the gray matter of the spinal cord that receives input from fibers of the dorsal (posterior) root and sends information out through the fibers of the ventral (anterior) root. As discussed in this video, these connections represent the interactions of the CNS with peripheral structures for both sensory and motor functions. The cervical and lumbar spinal cords have enlargements as a result of larger populations of neurons. What are these enlargements responsible for?

  6. 

Compared with the nearest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, the human has a brain that is huge. At a point in the past, a common ancestor gave rise to the two species of humans and chimpanzees. That evolutionary history is long and is still an area of intense study. But something happened to increase the size of the human brain relative to the chimpanzee. Read this article in which the author explores the current understanding of why this happened.

According to one hypothesis about the expansion of brain size, what tissue might have been sacrificed so energy was available to grow our larger brain? Based on what you know about that tissue and nervous tissue, why would there be a trade-off between them in terms of energy use?

  7. 

Watch this animation to see how blood flows to the brain and passes through the circle of Willis before being distributed through the cerebrum. The circle of Willis is a specialized arrangement of arteries that ensure constant perfusion of the cerebrum even in the event of a blockage of one of the arteries in the circle. The animation shows the normal direction of flow through the circle of Willis to the middle cerebral artery. Where would the blood come from if there were a blockage just posterior to the middle cerebral artery on the left?

  8. 

Watch this video that describes the procedure known as the lumbar puncture, a medical procedure used to sample the CSF. Because of the anatomy of the CNS, it is a relative safe location to insert a needle. Why is the lumbar puncture performed in the lower lumbar area of the vertebral column?

  9. 

Watch this animation that shows the flow of CSF through the brain and spinal cord, and how it originates from the ventricles and then spreads into the space within the meninges, where the fluids then move into the venous sinuses to return to the cardiovascular circulation. What are the structures that produce CSF and where are they found? How are the structures indicated in this animation?

  10. 

Figure 13.20 If you zoom in on the DRG, you can see smaller satellite glial cells surrounding the large cell bodies of the sensory neurons. From what structure do satellite cells derive during embryologic development?

  11. 

Figure 13.22 To what structures in a skeletal muscle are the endoneurium, perineurium, and epineurium comparable?

  12. 

Visit this site to read about a man who wakes with a headache and a loss of vision. His regular doctor sent him to an ophthalmologist to address the vision loss. The ophthalmologist recognizes a greater problem and immediately sends him to the emergency room. Once there, the patient undergoes a large battery of tests, but a definite cause cannot be found. A specialist recognizes the problem as meningitis, but the question is what caused it originally. How can that be cured? The loss of vision comes from swelling around the optic nerve, which probably presented as a bulge on the inside of the eye. Why is swelling related to meningitis going to push on the optic nerve?