Inside Biology

Unraveling the Wonders: Exploring the Intricacies of Nervous Tissue

The Astonishing World of Nervous Tissue: Understanding the Body’s Command CenterHave you ever wondered how your body is able to move, think, and react to various stimuli? It’s all thanks to a remarkable and complex system called the nervous system.

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of nervous tissue and explore its definition, function, and subdivisions. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery as we unravel the mysteries of the body’s intricate command center.

Definition and Function of Nervous Tissue

Nervous tissue definition

Nervous tissue is a specialized type of tissue that makes up the nervous system, which is responsible for controlling body movements and carrying signals between different parts of the body. It consists of two main types of cells: neurons and neuroglia.

Neurons are the primary functional cells of the nervous system, while neuroglia provide support and protection to the neurons. Together, these cells form a complex network that allows the transmission of information throughout the body.

Function of nervous tissue

The nervous system plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis and controlling bodily functions. One of its main functions is to coordinate body movements.

When you decide to raise your arm or take a step, it is the nervous system that sends signals to the relevant muscles, enabling them to contract or relax. Additionally, the nervous system helps in sending and carrying signals between different parts of the body.

For example, when you touch a hot surface, sensory neurons in your skin detect the change in temperature and send a signal to your brain. The brain then processes this information and sends a response back to the muscles, causing you to quickly withdraw your hand from the hot surface.

Moreover, the nervous system is involved in regulating various bodily functions, such as digestion and heartbeat. It controls the smooth muscles in our digestive system, ensuring that food is properly broken down and nutrients are absorbed.

Similarly, the heartbeat is coordinated by the nervous system, ensuring that blood is pumped efficiently throughout the body.

Subdivisions of the Nervous System

Central Nervous System (CNS)

The Central Nervous System (CNS) is the main control center of the body and consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is like the ultimate supercomputer, responsible for processing information, storing memories, and controlling bodily movements.

It is divided into different regions, each with specialized functions such as the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. On the other hand, the spinal cord acts as a pathway for communication between the brain and the rest of the body.

It plays a crucial role in coordinating reflex actions, which are rapid responses to stimuli that do not require input from the brain. For example, when you touch a hot surface, the spinal cord immediately sends a signal to your muscles to withdraw your hand, even before the brain has processed the information.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)


Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) consists of all the nerves that connect the CNS to the rest of the body. These nerves transmit signals to and from the brain and spinal cord, allowing us to control specific body parts and receive sensory information.

The PNS can be further divided into two systems: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system controls voluntary movements and is responsible for the conscious control of our muscles.

It allows us to perform actions such as walking, talking, and writing. On the other hand, the autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary bodily functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and digestion.

It is further divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions, which have opposite effects on various functions. The sympathetic division prepares the body for stress, initiating the flight or fight response, while the parasympathetic division promotes relaxation and recovery.


Understanding the wonders of nervous tissue unveils the intricate mechanisms behind our daily activities. The nervous system functions as the body’s command center, orchestrating movements, processing information, and regulating bodily functions.

From the powerhouse brain to the intricate network of peripheral nerves, every component plays a significant role in our daily lives. By unraveling the mysteries of nervous tissue, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and brilliance of our own bodies.

Subdivisions of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)

One of the subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It is responsible for initiating the body’s fight-or-flight response, which prepares us to face a threat or challenge.

When activated, the SNS triggers a series of physiological changes that help us respond to danger. One of the immediate responses of the SNS is the dilation of the pupils.

This allows more light to enter the eyes, enhancing our visual acuity and allowing us to better detect potential threats. Additionally, the SNS inhibits the digestive system, as it is not a priority during situations of immediate danger.

The blood flow is redirected from the digestive organs to the muscles, enabling us to react quickly and effectively. Furthermore, the SNS increases sweat secretion, helping reduce body temperature in high-stress situations.

This increased sweating also helps cool the body down during physical exertion. Another crucial effect of the SNS activation is the increase in heart rate.

The heart pumps faster, supplying oxygenated blood to the muscles, maximizing their performance during moments of stress or physical activity.

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS)

In contrast to the SNS, the

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) is responsible for promoting the body’s “rest and digest” state. When activated, the PSNS works to conserve energy and promote relaxation.

One of the primary functions of the PSNS is to stimulate digestion. The PSNS increases the secretion of digestive enzymes and enhances the motility of the gastrointestinal tract.

This promotes the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients. Additionally, the PSNS stimulates waste excretion, aiding in the elimination of indigestible materials from the body.

Another striking effect of the PSNS is the decrease in heart rate. As the PSNS is activated, it counteracts the increased heart rate induced by the SNS.

This decrease allows the body to conserve energy and return to a state of rest and relaxation.

Enteric Nervous System (ENS)


Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is often referred to as the “second brain” of the body. It is a complex network of neurons and neuroglia that extends throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

Although it is a part of the ANS, the ENS can function independently and regulate unconscious activities within the digestive system. The ENS controls various functions within the gastrointestinal tract, including the movement of food through the digestive system and the secretion of digestive enzymes.

It integrates sensory information from the gut and coordinates the contractions of the smooth muscles that line the digestive organs. Additionally, the ENS plays a vital role in managing the balance between absorption and excretion within the digestive system.

It helps regulate the absorption of nutrients and water from the intestines while simultaneously coordinating the elimination of waste products.

Types of Nervous Tissue


Neurons are the primary functional cells of the nervous system. These specialized cells are responsible for transmitting signals throughout the body.

They are highly specialized in structure and function, allowing them to efficiently send and receive information. Neurons communicate through electrical impulses called action potentials.

These impulses travel along the length of the neuron, from the dendrites, through the cell body, and down the axon. This transmission of signals allows neurons to relay information across long distances in the body.

There are different types of neurons with distinct functions. Sensory neurons transmit information from sensory receptors, such as those in the skin or eyes, to the nervous system.

Motor neurons, on the other hand, carry signals from the nervous system to muscles and glands, enabling them to respond to stimuli. Lastly, interneurons connect sensory and motor neurons, allowing for the integration and processing of information within the nervous system.


While neurons are the stars of the show, neuroglia play a crucial role in supporting and nourishing these cells.

Neuroglia, also known as glial cells, are non-neuronal cells that provide structural support and insulation to neurons.

Neuroglia perform various essential functions. They supply neurons with nutrients, oxygen, and other necessary substances.

They also help in getting rid of dead cells and cellular debris, ensuring a clean and healthy environment for neurons to function optimally. Additionally, neuroglia play a critical role in insulation.

They form myelin sheaths, which are fatty substances that wrap around axons, promoting faster conduction of electrical signals along the neuron. This insulation helps protect and maintain the integrity of the neuronal pathways.

Furthermore, neuroglia are involved in the formation and maintenance of synaptic connections. They assist in the development of synapses, which are sites of communication between neurons.

Neuroglia also regulate the chemical environment around synapses, ensuring efficient transmission of signals. By supporting neurons and maintaining the appropriate environment, neuroglia play a fundamental role in the overall functioning of the nervous system.

In conclusion, the world of nervous tissue is truly astonishing. From the subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system, such as the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions, to the different types of nervous tissue, including neurons and neuroglia, each component plays a vital role in maintaining our bodily functions.

Understanding the intricacies of nervous tissue allows us to appreciate the complexity and brilliance of our bodies’ command center. Types of


Astroglial cells (astrocytes)

Astroglial cells, commonly known as astrocytes, are a type of neuroglia found throughout the brain and spinal cord.

They play a crucial role in supporting and maintaining the health of neurons. One of the primary functions of astrocytes is to provide nutrients to neurons.

They have long, branching processes that allow them to come into close contact with blood vessels, enabling them to absorb nutrients such as glucose and oxygen. Astrocytes then transfer these nutrients to nearby neurons, ensuring their proper functioning.

In addition to providing nutrients, astrocytes help regulate the ion balance in the extracellular space surrounding neurons. They remove excess potassium ions that accumulate during neuronal activity, preventing the buildup of ions that could disrupt the normal functioning of neurons.

By maintaining the ion balance, astrocytes contribute to the overall stability of the neuronal environment. Furthermore, astrocytes play a crucial role in removing excess neurotransmitters from the synaptic cleft.

After a signal is transmitted from one neuron to another, neurotransmitters are released into the synapse. Astrocytes help clear these neurotransmitters to prevent their accumulation, ensuring precise signaling between neurons.

Ependymal cells

Ependymal cells are a specialized type of neuroglia found in the central nervous system (CNS), specifically lining the ventricles of the brain and the central canal of the spinal cord. These cells contribute to the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord.

Ependymal cells have hair-like projections called cilia that beat in coordinated waves, helping to circulate and move the CSF. By facilitating the movement of CSF, ependymal cells contribute to the diffusion of nutrients and waste removal within the CNS.

They also play a role in regulating the composition and volume of CSF, ensuring that the brain and spinal cord are protected and function optimally.


Oligodendrocytes are a type of neuroglia found in the central nervous system (CNS). These cells play a critical role in providing physical support and insulation to axons.

One of the primary functions of oligodendrocytes is the formation of myelin sheaths around axons. Myelin is a fatty substance that wraps around axons, forming a protective layer.

This myelin sheath acts as electrical insulation, allowing for faster conduction of electrical impulses along the axons. By increasing the speed of electrical transmission, oligodendrocytes help ensure efficient and rapid communication between neurons.

Each oligodendrocyte can extend multiple processes to form myelin sheaths around multiple axons simultaneously. This feature allows for compact and efficient insulation of numerous axons within the CNS.

In contrast to the peripheral nervous system (PNS), where each axon is individually myelinated by a Schwann cell, oligodendrocytes provide myelination to several axons at once.

Schwann cells

Schwann cells are a type of neuroglia found in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). These cells play a crucial role in providing myelination to axons and supporting their proper functioning.

One of the primary functions of

Schwann cells is the formation of myelin sheaths around axons within the PNS. Similar to oligodendrocytes,

Schwann cells provide a protective layer of myelin that allows for faster conduction of electrical impulses along the axon.

This myelination significantly increases the speed and efficiency of signal transmission. Unlike oligodendrocytes,

Schwann cells myelinate a single axon at a time.

Each Schwann cell wraps around a portion of the axon, forming a myelin segment known as a Schmidt-Lanterman incisure. The gaps between the Schmidt-Lanterman incisures are known as the Nodes of Ranvier, which allow for saltatory conduction, where the electrical signal jumps from one node to another, further enhancing the speed of transmission.


Schwann cells play a role in supporting peripheral axon regeneration after injury. When an axon is damaged,

Schwann cells guide and support its regrowth, helping reestablish functional connections and restore proper communication within the peripheral nervous system.

Microglial cells (microglia)

Microglial cells, also known as microglia, are the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS). Although they are a type of neuroglia, microglia have immune functions and play a crucial role in protecting the CNS from disease and injury.

One of the primary functions of microglia is immune surveillance. They constantly monitor the microenvironment within the CNS and respond to any signs of infection, inflammation, or tissue damage.

When activated, microglia undergo morphological changes and migrate towards the site of injury or infection. They act as phagocytes, engulfing and removing cellular debris, pathogens, and dead cells, contributing to the resolution of inflammation and promoting tissue repair.

Microglia also play a role in promoting neuron regrowth and synaptic remodeling. In cases of injury or disease, microglia release factors that stimulate neuronal growth and guide the rewiring of damaged neural circuits.

This process is crucial for the restoration of proper brain function and the recovery of lost neuronal connections. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that microglia

In conclusion, nervous tissue is a remarkable and essential component of the body’s command center the nervous system.

Defined as a specialized type of tissue, nervous tissue consists of neurons and neuroglia that work together to coordinate body movements, transmit signals, control bodily functions, and regulate unconscious activities. The subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system, such as the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions, play distinct roles in responding to different situations.

Additionally, neuroglia, such as astrocytes, ependymal cells, oligodendrocytes,

Schwann cells, and microglial cells, provide vital support to neurons, ensuring their well-being and functional efficiency. The understanding of nervous tissue and its various components leads to a greater appreciation of the intricacies and brilliance of the body’s communication system.

So, next time you marvel at your body’s ability to move, think, and react, remember that it’s all thanks to the astonishing world of nervous tissue.

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