The Human Nervous System


  The human nervous system consists essentially of a network of highly organized cells the neurons, interacting through special connections - the synapses. The number of neurons is about 100 billion, the number of synapses per neuron about 4 000. The signal transmission along the nerve cells occurs by electric impulses, at the synapses by small-molecular compounds, called neurotransmitters. The synapses can be newly created, enforced or be broken down, thus allowing long-term modulation of the flow of information.

This simple basic outlay involving a high number of neurons and interconnections allows the brain to handle large amounts of data at high speed, thus e.g. nearly instantly to establish an interior image of the outside world. Like all sensory impressions this internal image corresponds to a huge flow of neural information changing constantly in structure and size, including memorized data ranging from academic knowledge to associated emotional events.

Drawback of this setup is its limited reliability in regard of memorization. Only a small fraction of the gathered information is definitely stored, the quality not comparable with e.g. genetically (DNS) stored information. Different in this respect from a commonly used computer, the brain depends  heavily on external assistance such as the natural environment, and notably human created "spiritual realities" such as books and works of art.

Transmission of information from eye and ear to the brain occurs not in form of well defined data-files, but rather in form of at random dissected pits and pieces which then need to be reassembled, analog e.g. to the content of a poorly transmitted telephone call. In order for the brain to be able to prepare a quick response, these "units" of information have to be small/short, thus invariantly affecting quality of content.

In spite of the fact, that the underlying mechanism are not much understood, it is nevertheless easy to recognize that well structured information is processes much faster and more accurate than poorly structured content, - important also in regard of the perception of any work of art.




The basic build-up of the entire nervous system can easily be understood from its basic task of coordination. To allow an animal to move requests coordination of the action of its limbs, a task essentially taking place to a mayor extent at the level of the spinal cord. To perform e.g. a basic reaction to a thread requires some kind of a basic overhead organization, sites located mainly in the central parts of the brain. To be able to execute higher functions requests high quality systems for data integration, analysis, and motor-executive tasks, structures located mostly on the outer part or surface of the brain. This three-part set-up is essentially identical for birds and mammals varying in regard of its detailed outlay in respect of the specific needs.



Repeated sensory challenges such as e.g. to learn to use a tool lead to the establishment of integrated automatic motor responses traveling from the surface of the brain down to the nervous roots of the spinal cord, using a specially designed neural pathway for this purpose named the pyramidal track.

Within limits animals can learn and reason perfectly well without disposing of a mean such as the human language. First signs of language type structures are observed in primates. The difference between the human langue the correlate in chimpanzees is not the basic concept but the enormously superior execution-power.

In regard of frequently asked questions such as "How compares the song of a bird with human singing", it appears correct to say, that humans can sing and understand many songs, but most birds sing only one single song of rather short duration, and in respect to "Can chimpanzees produce visual art”, the probably appropriated answer is no, as chimpanzees do not have the brain power of humans, request for the creation of meaningful art.

Questions of this kind are best asked in regard of the essential differences rather than in respect of eventual similarities



Surface of the Brain Anatomical Terms