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This chapter should help the student to:

  • List the features distinguishing nerve tissue from other basic tissue types.

  • List the nerve tissue cell types and describe the structure, function, location, and embryonic origin of each.

  • Describe in detail how neurons receive, propagate, and transmit signals.

  • Describe a neuron’s organelles in terms of their location and roles in impulse transmission and neuronal repair.

  • Describe synapses in terms of their structural components, function, and classification.

  • Describe nervous system organization in terms of the structure, functions, location, and distinguishing features of its subsystems.

  • Describe the structure and function of the meninges.

  • Describe the response of nerve tissue to injury.

  • Recognize the type of nerve tissue displayed in a micrograph and identify its cells and cell processes.


  1. List the basic functions of nerve tissue (I.A.1; VII.B1).

  2. Compare the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) (I.D.1; Table 9–1) in terms of:

    1. Major components (organs)

    2. Names given to a collection of nerve cell bodies

    3. Names given to a collection of nerve cell fibers

    4. Supporting cells present

    5. Cells responsible for myelination

    6. Cells that invest unmyelinated fibers

    7. Embryonic origin

  3. Compare gray matter and white matter (Table 9–1) in terms of:

    1. Predominant neuronal components (cell bodies, axons, dendrites)

    2. Amount of myelin present

    3. Predominant astrocyte type (III.A.1)

    4. Abundance of synapses

  4. Name two basic subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) (I.D.2; Table 9–2).

  5. Compare the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (I.D.2; Fig. 9–1; Table 9–2) in terms of the locations of cell bodies of preganglionic and postganglionic neurons, the neurotransmitter released by their postganglionic neurons, and their primary function (sensory or motor).

  6. Beginning with neural plate formation, list the basic steps in nervous system development (I.E; Fig. 9–2).

  7. List the cell types derived from the embryonic neural crest (I.E).

  8. Compare the dura mater, arachnoid, and pia mater (I.G) in terms of:

    1. Location

    2. Attachments (e.g., periosteum, brain, spinal cord)

    3. Tissue type

    4. Presence of blood vessels

  9. Describe the blood–brain barrier in terms of its structural correlates and its function (I.H;III.A.1).

  10. Compare multipolar, bipolar, and pseudounipolar neurons (II. D; Table 9–3) in terms of their number of axons and dendrites, typical function, and location in the body (include examples).

  11. Compare axons (II.C) and dendrites (II.B) in terms of:

    1. Number per neuron

    2. Relative length

    3. Presence of surface projections

    4. Primary function

    5. Presence of Nissl bodies (RER and ribosomes)

    6. Degree of branching

    7. Variation in diameter as a function of distance from the perikaryon

    8. Content of synaptic vesicles

  12. Draw a terminal bouton and its associated synapse (see Fig. 9–3) and label the synaptic vesicles, mitochondria, presynaptic membrane, synaptic cleft, and postsynaptic membrane.

  13. Compare protoplasmic astrocytes and fibrous astrocytes in terms of their location and the length and diameter of their cell processes (III.A.1).

  14. Compare astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia (III.A.1–3) in terms of:

    1. Nuclear shape, size, and staining intensity

    2. Relative number of cell processes

    3. Ability to form ...

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