In vertebrate anatomy the brainstem (or brain stem) is the posterior part of the brain, adjoining and structurally continuous with the spinal cord. It is usually described as including the medulla oblongata (myelencephalon), pons (part of metencephalon), and midbrain (mesencephalon). Less frequently, parts of the diencephalon are included. The brainstem provides the main motor and sensory innervation to the face and neck via the cranial nerves. Of the twelve pairs of cranial nerves, ten pairs come from the brainstem. Though small, this is an extremely important part of the brain as the nerve connections of the motor and sensory systems from the main part of the brain to the rest of the body pass through the brainstem. This includes the corticospinal tract (motor), the posterior column-medial lemniscus pathway (fine touch, vibration sensation and proprioception) and the spinothalamic tract (pain, temperature, itch and crude touch). The brainstem also plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac and respiratory function. It also regulates the central nervous system, and is pivotal in maintaining consciousness and regulating the sleep cycle. The brainstem has many basic functions including heart rate, breathing, sleeping and eating.
The nervous system is the part of an animal's body that coordinates the voluntary and involuntary actions of the animal and transmits signals between different parts of its body. Nervous tissue first arose in wormlike organisms about 550 to 600 million years ago. In most types of animals it consists of two main parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS contains the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists mainly of nerves, which are long fibers that connect the CNS to every other part of the body. The PNS includes motor neurons, mediating voluntary movement, the autonomic nervous system, comprising the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system and regulating involuntary functions, and the enteric nervous system, a semi-independent part of the nervous system whose function is to control the gastrointestinal system.
At the cellular level, the nervous system is defined by the presence of a special type of cell, called the neuron, also known as a "nerve cell". Neurons have special structures that allow them to send signals rapidly and precisely to other cells. They send these signals in the form of electrochemical waves traveling along thin fibers called axons, which cause chemicals called neurotransmitters to be released at junctions called synapses. A cell that receives a synaptic signal from a neuron may be excited, inhibited, or otherwise modulated. The connections between neurons form neural circuits that generate an organism's perception of the world and determine its behavior. Along with neurons, the nervous system contains other specialized cells called glial cells (or simply glia), which provide structural and metabolic support.
The motor system is the part of the central nervous system that is involved with movement. It consists of the pyramidal and extrapyramidal system.
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain (the medulla oblongata specifically). The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS). The spinal cord begins at the occipital bone and extends down to the space between the first and second lumbar vertebrae; it does not extend the entire length of the vertebral column. It is around 45 cm (18 in) in men and around 43 cm (17 in) long in women. Also, the spinal cord has a varying width, ranging from 1/2 inch thick in the cervical and lumbar regions to 1/4 inch thick in the thoracic area. The enclosing bony vertebral column protects the relatively shorter spinal cord. The spinal cord functions primarily in the transmission of neural signals between the brain and the rest of the body but also contains neural circuits that can independently control numerous reflexes and central pattern generators. The spinal cord has three major functions: as a conduit for motor information, which travels down the spinal cord, as a conduit for sensory information in the reverse direction, and finally as a center for coordinating certain reflexes.
The medulla oblongata is the lower half of the brainstem. It is often referred to simply as the medulla. The medulla contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and vasomotor centers and deals with autonomic, (involuntary) functions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
The bulb is an archaic term for the medulla oblongata; in modern clinical usage, it sometimes includes the pons as well. The word bulbar therefore refers to the nerves and tracts connected to the medulla, and also by association to the muscles thus innervated, those of the tongue, pharynx and larynx.
The pyramidal tracts refer to both the corticospinal and tractscorticobulbar of the nervous system.
The corticospinal tract conducts impulses from the brain to the spinal cord. It contains mostly axons originated from the motor cortex. The corticospinal tract is made up of two separate tracts in the spinal cord: the lateral corticospinal tract and the anterior corticospinal tract. The corticospinal tract also contains betz cells (the largest pyramidal cells), which are not found in any other region of the body. An understanding of these tracts leads to an understanding of why one side of the body is controlled by the opposite side of the brain. The corticospinal tract is concerned specifically with discrete voluntary skilled movements, such as precise movement of the fingers and toes. The brain sends impulses to the spinal cord relaying the message. This is imperative in understanding that the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body, while the right hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body. The tracts cross in the medulla oblongata in a process also known as decussation.
Science of drugs including their origin, composition, pharmacokinetics,
pharmacodynamics, therapeutic use, and toxicology.
Pharmacology (from Greek φάρμακον, pharmakon, "poison" in classic Greek; "drug" in modern Greek; and -λογία, -logia "study of", "knowledge of") is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (within the body) molecule which exerts a biochemical and/or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.