Nervous System Study Guide
The nervous system is the master coordinating system of the body. Every thought, action, and sensation
reflects its activity. Because of its complexity, the structures of the nervous system are described in
terms of two principal divisions—the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system
(PNS). The CNS, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, interprets incoming sensory information and
issues instructions based on past experience. The PNS, consisting of cranial and spinal nerves and
ganglia, provides the communication lines between the CNS and the body’s muscles, glands, and
sensory receptors. The nervous system is also divided functionally in terms of motor activities into the
somatic and autonomic divisions. It is important, however, to recognize that these classifications are
made for the sake of convenience and that the nervous system acts in an integrated manner both
structurally and functionally.
1. List the three major functions of the nervous system.
2. Choose the key responses that best correspond to the descriptions provided in the following
statements. Insert the appropriate letter or term in the answer blanks.
A. Autonomic nervous system
C. Peripheral nervous system
B. Central nervous system
D. Somatic nervous system
_____ 1. Nervous system subdivision that is composed of the brain and spinal cord.
_____ 2. Subdivision of the PNS that controls voluntary activities such as the activation of skeletal
_____3. Nervous system subdivision that is composed of the cranial and spinal nerves and ganglia.
____ 4. Subdivision of the PNS that regulates the activity of the heart and smooth muscle and of
glands; it is also called the involuntary nervous system.
____ 5. A major subdivision of the nervous system that interprets incoming information and issues
____ 6. A major subdivision of the nervous system that serves as communication lines, linking all parts
of the body to the CNS.
3. This exercise emphasizes the difference between neurons and neuroglia. Indicate which cell
type is identified by the following descriptions. Insert the appropriate letter or term in the
____ 1. Supports, insulates, and protects cells.
____ 2. Demonstrates irritability and conductivity, and thus transmit electrical messages from one area
of the body to another area.
____ 3. Release neurotransmitters.
____ 4. Are amitotic.
____ 5. Able to divide; therefore are responsible for most brain neoplasms.
4. Match the anatomic terms given in Column B with the appropriate descriptions of the function
provided in Column A. Place the correct term or letter response in the answer blanks.
____ 1. Releases neurotransmitters
____ 2. Conducts electrical currents toward the cell body
B. Axonal terminal
____ 3. Increases the speed of impulse transmission
____ 4. Location of the nucleus
D. Myelin sheath
____ 5. Generally conducts impulses away from the cell body
E. Cell body
5. Certain activities or sensations are listed below. Using key choices, select the specific receptor
type that would be activated by the activity or sensation described. Insert the correct term(s) or
letter response(s) in the answer blanks. Note that more than one receptor type may be
activated in some cases.
A. Bare nerve endings (pain)
B. Golgi tendon organ
E. Pacinian corpuscle
C. Meissner’s corpuscle
D. Muscle spindle
Activity or Sensation
Walking on Hot Pavement
Feeling a pinch
Leaning on a shovel
1. (Identify two) ________________________________
2. (Identify two) ________________________________
Muscle sensations when rowing a boat 4. (Identify two) _______________________________
Feeling a caress
6. List in order the minimum elements in a reflex arc from the stimulus to the activity of the
effector. Place your responses in the answer blanks.
5. Effector organ
7. Using key choices, select the terms indentified in the following descriptions by inserting the
appropriate letter or term in the spaces provided.
A. Afferent neuron
B. Association neuron
C. Cutaneous sense organs
D. Efferent neuron
I. Nodes of Ranvier
L. Schwann cells
____ 1. Sensory receptors found in the skin, which are specialized to detect temperature, pressure
changes, and pain.
____ 2. Specialized cells that myelinate the fibers of neurons found in the PNS
____ 3. Junction or point of close contact between neurons.
____ 4. Bundle of nerve processes inside the CNS.
____ 5. Neuron, serving as part of the conduction pathway between sensory and motor neurons
____ 6. Gaps in a myelin sheath
____ 7. Collection of nerve cell bodies found outside the CNS
____ 8. Neuron that conducts impulses away from the CNS to muscles and glands
____ 9. Sensory receptors found in muscle and tendons that detect their degree of stretch.
____ 10. Changes, occurring within or outside the body, that affect nervous system functioning.
____ 11. Neuron that conducts impulses toward the CNS from the body periphery.
____12. Chemicals released by neurons that stimulate other neurons, muscles, or glands.
8. Figure 7-1 is a diagram of a neuron. First, label the parts indicated on the illustration by leader
lines. Then choose different colors for each of the structures listed below and use them to color
in the coding circles and corresponding structures in the illustration. Finally, draw arrows on the
figure to indicate the direction of impulse transmission along the neuron’s membrane.
9. Using the key choices, identify the types of reflexes involved in each of the following situations.
A. Somatic Reflex(es)
____ 1. Patellar (knee-jerk) response
____ 2. Pupillary light reflex
____ 3. Effectors are skeletal muscles
____ 4. Effectors are smooth muscle and glands
____ 5. Flexor reflex
____ 6. Regulation of blood pressure
____ 7. Salivary reflex
B. Autonomic reflex(es)
10. Refer to Figure 7-2, showing a reflex arc, as you complete this exercise. First, briefly answer the
following questions by inserting your responses in the spaces provided.
a. What is the stimulus? _____________________________________________________
b. What tissue is the effector? ________________________________________________
c. How many synapses occur in this reflex arc? ___________________________________
Next, select different colors for each of the following structures and use them to color in the
coding circles and corresponding structures in the diagram. Finally, draw arrows on the figure
indicating the direction of the impulse transmission through this reflex pathway.
Using the key choices, complete the following statements by inserting your answers in the
KEY CHOICES: A. ventricles
B. cerebral hemispheres
C. brain stem
D. cerebrospinal fluid
The largest part of the human brain is the (paired) _________________________________.
The other major subdivisions of the brain are the __________________________________
and the __________________________________. The cavities found in the brain are called
_____________________________and they contain ________________________________.
Using the Key Choices, complete the following statements.
A. myelinated fibers B. Surface area
C. Neuron cell bodies
A _____________ is an elevated ridge of cerebral cortex tissue. The convolutions seen in the
cerebrum are important because they increase the ________________________. Gray matter
is composed of _________________________. White matter is composed of ______________,
which provide for communication between different parts of the brain as well as with lower CNS
Figure 7-3 is a diagram of the right lateral view of the human brain. First, match the letters
on the diagram with the following list of terms and insert the appropriate letters in the answer
blanks. Then, select different colors for each of the areas of the brain provided with a colorcoding circle and use them to color in the coding circles and corresponding structures in the
diagram. If an identified area is a part of a lobe, use the color you selected for the lobe but use
stripes for that area.
Figure 7-4 is a diagram of the sagittal view of the human brain. First match the letters on the
diagram with the following list of terms and insert the appropriate letter in the answer blanks.
Then, color the brain-stem areas blue and the areas where cerebrospinal fluid is found yellow.
______2. Cerebral Aqueduct
______10. Medulla oblongata
______3. Cerebral hemisphere
______11. Optic chiasma
______4. Cerebral Peduncle
______12. Pineal body
______5. Choroid plexus
______13. Pituitary body
______6. Corpora quadrigemina
______7. Corpus callosum
______8. Fourth ventricle
If the following statements are true, insert the word “true” in the answer blanks. If any of
the statements are false, correct the underlined term by inserting the correct term in the
________________1.Cortical areas involved in audition are found in the occipital lobe.
________________2. The primary motor area in the temporal lobe is involved in the initiation of
________________3. The right cerebral hemisphere receives sensory input from the right side
of the body.
________________4. Damage to the thalamus impairs consciousness and the awake/sleep
________________5. A flat EEG is evidence of clinical death.
________________6. Brain imaging with an MRI involves the use of radioisotope tracers.
Using the following KEY choices, identify the meningeal (or associated) structures described
KEY CHOICES: A. Arachnoid layer
B. Pia mater C. Dura mater
___________1. Outermost covering of the brain, composed of tough fibrous connective
___________2. Innermost covering of the brain; delicate and vascular.
___________3. Structures that return cerebrospinal fluid to the venous blood in the dura
___________4. Middle meningeal layer; like a cobweb in structure.
___________5. Its outer layer forms the periosteum of the skull.
Application of Knowledge. You have been given all of the information needed to identify
the brain regions involved in the following situations. See how well your nervous system has
integrated this information, and name the brain region (or condition) most likely to be involved
in each situation. Place your responses in the answer blanks.
a. Following a train accident, a man with an obvious head injury was observed stumbling
about the scene. An inability to walk properly and a loss of balance were quite obvious.
What brain region was injured? Explain
b. An elderly woman is admitted to the hospital to have a gallbladder operation. While she
is being cared for, the nurse notices that she has trouble initiating movement and has a
strange “pill-rolling” tremor of her hands. What cerebral area is most likely involved?
c. A child is brought to the hospital with a high temperature. The doctor states that the
child’s meninges are inflamed. What name is given to this condition? Where are the
d. A young woman is brought into the emergency room with extremely dilated pupils. Her
friends state that she has overdosed on cocaine. What cranial nerve is stimulated by
e. A young man has just received serious burns, resulting from standing with his back too
close to a bonfire. He is muttering that he never felt the pain. Otherwise, he would
have smothered the flames by rolling on the ground. What part of his CNS might be
An elderly gentleman has just suffered a stroke. He is able to understand verbal and
written language, but when he tries to respond, his words are garbled. What cortical
region has been damaged by the stroke? Explain.
g. A 12-year old boy suddenly falls to the ground, having an epileptic seizure. He is rushed
to the emergency room of the local hospital for medication. His follow-up care includes
a recording of his brain waves to try to determine the area of the lesion. What is this
Figure 7-6 is a cross-sectional view of the spinal cord. First, select different colors to identify
the following structures and use them to color the coding circles and corresponding structures
in the figure.
Then, identify the areas listed in the key choices by inserting the correct choices/letter next to
the appropriate leader line on the figure.
A. Central canal
B. Column of white matter
C. Dorsal horn
D. Dorsal root
E. Dorsal root ganglion
F. Spinal nerve
G. Ventral Horn
H. Ventral Root
Using the KEY Choices, indicated what would happen if the following structures were
damaged or transected. Place the correct letter in the answer blanks.
A. Loss of motor function
C. Loss of both motor and sensory function
B. Loss of sensory function
_______1. Dorsal root of a spinal nerve
_______2. Ventral root of a spinal nerve
_______3. Anterior ramus of a spinal nerve
The following table indicates a number of conditions. Use a check to show which division of
the autonomic nervous system is involved in each condition.
Postganglionic neurons secrete norepinephrine;
Postganglionic neurons secrete acetylcholine;
Normally in control
Fight or Flight response system
Causes a dry mouth, dilates bronchioles
Constricts eye pupils, decreases heart rate
Slows down digestive functions
You are alone in your home late in the evening, and you hear an unfamiliar sound in your
backyard. In the spaces provided, list four physiologic events promoted by the sympathetic
nervous system that would help you to cope with this frightening situation.
After surgery, patients are often temporarily unable to urinate, and bowel sounds are
absent. Indentify the division of the autonomic nervous system that is affected by anesthesia.
A brain tumor is found in a CT scan of Mr. Child’s head. The physician is assuming that it is
not a secondary tumor (i.e. it did not spread from another part of the body) because an
exhaustive workup has revealed no signs of cancer elsewhere in Mr. Child’s body. Is the brain
tumor more likely to have developed from nerve tissue or from neuroglia? Why?
Amy, a high-strung teenager, was suddenly startled by a loud bang that sounded like a
gunshot. Her heartbeat accelerated rapidly. When she realized that the noise was only a car
backfiring, she felt greatly relieved but her heart kept beating heavily for several minutes more.
Why does it take a long time to calm down after we are scared?
While working in the emergency room, you admit two patients who were in an auto collision.
One is dead on arrival, having sustained a severed spinal cord at the level of C2. The other
patient suffered a similar injury but at the level of C6 and is still alive. Explain briefly, in terms of
the origin and function of the phrenic nerves, why one injury was fatal and the other was not.