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How do nerves and your nervous system work?

Nerves in our Nervous System

Do you want to understand some of the science behind how your nerves and nervous system work? Below are some of the basics to get you started with what is happening under your skin.

What are nerves?

Nerves are essential for life. Picture nerves as wires, transmitting impulses through your body and aiding communication between your brain all the way through your extremities: hands, fingers, feet, and toes. Nerves are always at work helping you sense and perceive the world around you. For example, if you touch a hot plate, nerves in your fingers send the information from your fingers up to your brain to perceive the sensation of heat. When your brain receives that information, it signals through nerves to the muscles in your hand to pull away your finger. The result – you quickly move your finger away from the heat to protect it from getting burned.

What is the nervous system and how does it work?

Nerves are part of the nervous system. Your nervous system helps you to not only perceive, comprehend, and respond to the world around you, but also to send, receive, and interpret information from all parts of your body. In fact, the nervous system monitors and coordinates voluntary actions that we consciously decide to do, like walking, as well as involuntary actions, like breathing and digestion, that happen without your specific direction. Nerve cells, called neurons, are the cells that constitute the nervous tissue of which the nervous system is made. They work by a mixture of chemical and electrical action, allowing the transmission of signals in our body.

What is the peripheral nervous system?

The peripheral nervous system is made of millions of nerves, called peripheral nerves, linked to each other and to muscles or to receptors throughout our body. Think of this as a series of electrical wires connecting your brain to your body, allowing them to communicate. The nerve fibers are covered by a material called myelin sheath, which is insulation for your nerves. Myelin protects the nerve fiber and helps the messages move quickly through the neurons.