If you are wondering how does central nervous system affect human behavior, you will be surprised to learn that the system plays an important role in controlling behavior. The system is made up of the spinal cord and brain, and both these together control various facets of human behavior.
The brain gets messages from different parts of the body through afferent neurons and thereafter, it is the brain that informs the body how to respond to a particular situation or stimulus. For instance, when a person touches a hot pan by accident, immediately the nerves in the skin relay this information (or pain) to the brain. The brain, in turn, sends back information to the muscles of the hand to immediately remove the hand. This entire process of relaying to and fro messages occurs in milliseconds.
The brain is a complex structure and considering the amount of work it does, it hardly weighs around three pounds. The structure of the brain is convoluted and this helps to provide a larger surface area for storing important information pertaining to the body. The spinal cord is a bundle of tissue, around three-quarter inches in thickness and 18 inches in length. It begins from the base of the brain and extends down the spine. From the spinal cord branches of nerves extend to all the parts of the body, forming what is referred to as the peripheral nervous system.
The brain is divided into three parts, namely the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. The forebrain is composed of the cerebrum, and this portion of the brain controls intelligence, personality, emotions, ability to feel, speech and memory. The cerebrum has a left and right side, which are linked to one another via the corpus collosum. The left side controls logic and analytical behavior, while the right side controls creative and intuitive behavior. The 5 senses that humans have arise from the cortex, which is the outer covering of the cerebrum. The cortex is also referred to as the gray matter. The cerebrum houses the pituitary, hypothalamus and thalamus.
The midbrain, as the name suggests, is situated in the center of the forebrain. It is responsible for coordinating messages that come in and go out of the brain. And towards the back of the forebrain is the hindbrain, which is composed of the pons, medulla and cerebellum. This part of the brain controls coordination, movement and balance. The brainstem is composed of the medulla and pons, and it is responsible for actions such as blinking, digestion, swallowing, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
When a baby is born, he/she has all the neurons required. However, these neurons are not connected and hence, it takes time for a baby to learn how to behave. As the baby grows, the connections between the neurons are forged. A child's brain is extremely adaptable and keeps forging new neural connections, and that is the reason why children can learn new things and behaviors easily when compared to adults. That is why it is recommended that adults keep stimulating their brains in order to make new neural connections, which facilitate learning of new things.
Hence, it is the central nervous system that controls many behaviors that we learn over our life time. However, to ensure learning, it is important for the brain to form new nerve connections. This is possible only if the brain is constantly stimulated. That is why older adults are often recommended to do crossword puzzles. These puzzles stimulate the brain and help in establishing new connections. As a result decline in cognition is reduced or reversed altogether.
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