Let’s say a bee lands on your hand. A message from the nerves in your hand races to your brain –“There’s a bee on my hand.” Your brain quickly processes the information and responds with the message, “Danger. Move your hand. The bee might sting you.” You shake your hand and the bee flies away. Crisis averted.
All of this happens in less than two seconds. In fact, messages from your body can zip to your brain at a speed of 200 mph. Your nervous system is the communications center for your body. Your brain is the central control panel. Here, billions of neurons receive electrical impulses from nerves in your body. The nerves can alert your brain to danger or pain.
Fun Facts about the Nervous System for Kids
- Your central nervous system includes your brain and your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is a long bundle of neurons that goes down your back. From the spinal cord, nerves stretch throughout your body like a highway. This is the peripheral nervous system.
- If you touch a hot stove, impulses from your brain go to your brain. Your brain sends back a message telling you to move your hand so you don’t get hurt.
- The hypothalamus controls body temperature, thirst and other bodily functions. If you get too cold, your brain sends a message to your body to shiver, which helps warm you up.
- Your hypothalamus even controls when you get a fever. When germs invade your body, chemical messages are sent to the brain. Your brain tells white blood cells to start working harder to fight off the bacteria. This extra work makes your body warm up. A fever means the white blood cells are defending your body from the invaders.
Nervous System Vocabulary
- Crisis: dangerous situation
- Avert: prevent
- Neurons: cells in the nervous system
- Impulses: messages
- Bacteria: germs that can make you sick
Learn More All About Your Nerves and the Human Nervous System
Watch this video all about your nerves at work:
A video about the human nervous system and how it functions.
Nervous System Q&A
Question: How big is the nervous system?
Answer: Your brain weighs about 3 pounds. The spinal cord is 18 inches long and is about ¾ inch thick. Nerves run throughout your body.
Question: Can my nervous system be damaged?
Answer: Your brain and spinal cord are protected by bone, fluid and special membranes. But, they can be permanently damaged by accidents or illness. Always wear a helmet when you’re riding a bike or skateboarding and wear a seatbelt in the car. These things can help keep your precious control panel safe.
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