Understanding The Nervous System with an Expert in Neuro-engineering – Dr. Curtis Cripe

The nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord (central nervous system) with the human body’s nerves (peripheral nervous system). The nervous system is made to get and process information from the senses and send it to the organs, glands, and muscles to respond to it. This whole organization helps the organism to survive.

You can say that the nervous system in the body is the main control system for emotions, thinking, perception, movement, and solving. It is also accountable for bodily functions that do not require conscious thoughts like controlling the heartbeat and respiration.

Dr. Curtis Cripe – Delving deeper into the nervous system

Dr. Curtis Cripe is an esteemed expert in the field of neuro-engineering and behavioral medicine from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. He is currently the Director of Research and Development at the NTL Group.

According to him, when it comes to the nervous system in the body, there are two cells, and they are-

  1. Neurons
  2. Glia

Neurons are the specialized cells that transmit messages to the rest of the muscles, organs, and neurons. Glial cells are significant for the optimal functioning of the neurons. The Glial cells, like the ones that make myelin insulation, help in supporting the neurons. There are about 86 billion neurons in the human brain with the same number of glial cells.

The neuron has four basic parts, and they are-

  1. Dendrites- Extensions that get information from other neurons.
  2. Cell body (soma)- This is the area with the genetic material of the neuron, with the cell’s nucleus, and integrates the signals received from the dendrites.
  3. Axon- Refers to a single extension with the responsibility of taking information away from the cell.
  4. Axon terminal- This refers to the end of the axon where one neuron communicates with another cell or neuron.

 Neuro-engineering - Dr. Curtis Cripe

Understanding neural transmission 

There is a small gap known as the synapse via which chemicals move to enable communication between neurons. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they are released from a single neuron from the axon terminal. The molecules of this neurotransmitter cross the small gap where they might attach to the next cell or neuron at a specialized site known as the receptor.

The action that follows this activation of the receptor site might be either a depolarization (excitatory postsynaptic potential) or hyperpolarization) inhibitory postsynaptic potential). 

Action potential – What does it mean for the nervous system in the body?

When the neuron is not transmitting any signal, it is considered to be “at rest.” When in this position, its inside contains a negative electrical voltage relative to its outside. The inside of the neuron is approximately -70mV relative to its outside.

This potential difference is due to varying concentrations of chloride, potassium, and sodium ions and its negatively charged molecules of protein inside and outside of it. According to Dr. Curtis Cripe, an action potential takes place when the neuron sends information down the axon, away from the body of the cell.