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What is Nervous Tissue?

By Jennifer Fenn
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Nervous tissue has two main functions: sensing stimuli and sending impulses to different parts of the body as a response. This tissue is what makes up the body’s nervous system, which is split into the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Tissue in the central nervous system can be found in the brain and spinal chord. The peripheral nervous system is made up of all nerves and related tissue outside of these areas, and it gathers signals from all parts of the body and sends them to the central nervous system. Nervous tissue is responsible for many of the body’s activities and processes, including memory, reasoning and emotions. Signals from this tissue also cause muscle contractions.

Neurons and glial cells make up nervous tissue. Humans have billions of neurons, in varying size, in their bodies. Neurons can be broken down into the cell body, which contains each neuron’s nucleus and mitochondria, and nerve processes. Nerve processes are made of cytoplasm and resemble thin fingers. They extend outward from the neuron and are responsible for transmitting signals both to the neuron and away from it. There are two types of nerve processes: axons and dendrites. Axons carry messages away from the neuron and dendrites transmit signals to the neuron. Together, axons and dendrites form nerves.

Glial cells — called neuroglia when located in the central nervous system — are often found in bunches around neurons in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and are smaller than neurons. Glial cells have a special function when surrounding axons, though they do not transmit neurological signals. Called Schwann cells, these special glial cells provide the neurons of the nervous tissue with support, nutrition, and protection against bacteria. They hold the neurons together. Other types of glial cells include microglia and oligodendrocytes. Microglia help repair damage to the neurons, while oligodendrocytes support the axons.

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Discussion Comments

By anon262851 — On Apr 21, 2012

How does the nervous tissue form, or what forms the nervous tissue?

By anon121503 — On Oct 24, 2010

is this tissue found in the liver?

By wesley91 — On Oct 21, 2010

@purplespark:

There are three basic structures of the Nervous System. First, is the Central Nervous System, otherwise known as (CNS). This consists of the brain and spinal cord.

Second is the Peripheral Nervous System, otherwise known as (PNS). This consists of all the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The Somatic Nervous System, which is voluntary, is known as PNS. This includes two types which are known as sensory and motor nerves. The Autonomic Nervous System, which is involuntary, can be sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic is activated by stress and an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, pupil size and sweating.

Third is the Parasympathetic, which maintains body functions in a controlled, relaxed state and restores body to pre-stress state.

By PurpleSpark — On Oct 21, 2010

I am doing a report in biology. What are the structures of the nervous system?

By CellMania — On Oct 21, 2010

Just a little more FYI on the topic:

Nervous tissue is compiled of one of four vertebrate tissues. The main component of the nervous system is the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves. The nervous system regulates and controls body function. The nervous tissue is composed of neurons, neuroglia cells and provides nutrients to the nerves.

I took anatomy and physiology in my Medical Billing class and learned that the neurons transmit impulses and neuroglia cells assist the nerve impulse. Nervous systems are sensory input, integration, controls of muscles and glands, homeostasis, and mental activity.

There are various types of nervous tissue tumors. The most common tumors are Gliomas, Neuroepitheliomatous and Nerve sheath tumors. Most of these are treatable if diagnosed in time.

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