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see nervous systemnervous system,
network of specialized tissue that controls actions and reactions of the body and its adjustment to the environment. Virtually all members of the animal kingdom have at least a rudimentary nervous system.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the cordlike association of nerve tissues that links the brain and nerve ganglia by innervation to the other organs and tissues of the body.

A nerve primarily consists of nerve fibers. In vertebrates many nerves converge to form a bundle that is surrounded by a connective tissue sheath, the perineurium; the thin interstitial layers of connective tissue that separate the individual fibers deep within the bundle constitute the endoneurium. Finally, the entire nerve trunk, comprising several bundles, is covered by an additional sheath, the epineurium.

Nerves can be sensory (also called afferent or centripetal) or motor (also called efferent or centrifugal). Some nerves, for example, those innervating the skeletal muscles, mainly include myelinated, or medullated, fibers; others, for example, the sympathetic nerves, largely consist of unmyelinated, or unmedullated, fibers.

In reptiles, birds, mammals, and man 12 pairs of cranial nerves branch from the brain: the olfactory (cranial nerve I), the optic (cranial nerve II), the oculomotor (cranial nerve III), the trochlear (cranial nerve IV), the trigeminal (cranial nerve V), the abducent (cranial nerve VI), the facial (cranial nerve VII), the acoustic (cranial nerve VIII), the glossopharyngeal (cranial nerve IX), the vagus (cranial nerve X), the accessory (cranial nerve XI), and the hypoglossal (cranial nerve XII). Only the first ten pairs are present in fish and amphibians.

In man there are 31 pairs of spinal nerves: eight cervical, 12 thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral, and one coccygeal. Each pair innervates the effectors and receptors of a certain part of the body. The spinal nerves branch from the spinal cord into two roots—the posterior, or sensory, and the anterior, or motor. Both roots then combine to form a common trunk that consists of both sensory and motor fibers.

Several adjacent nerves can be combined into nerve plexuses, where an exchange of fibers between different nerves can take place. Three large plexuses are distinguished: the cervical, the brachial, and the lumbosacral. Each nerve plexus is the origin of several pairs of nerves; for example, the sacral portion of the lumbosacral plexus gives rise to the sciatic nerves.

Nerves that originate in the ganglia, trunks, and plexuses of the autonomic nervous system constitute a specific group. The optic nerve is remarkable for its large number of fibers; there are more than 1 million in the human optic nerve. Usually, however, there are 103 -104 fibers in a nerve. In invertebrates certain nerves are known to consist of only a few fibers. The peripheral nervous system in animals and man consists of aggregations of nerves.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A bundle of nerve fibers or processes held together by connective tissue.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Any one of the ribs of a groined vault, but esp. a rib which forms one of the sides of a compartment of the groining.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any of the cordlike bundles of fibres that conduct sensory or motor impulses between the brain or spinal cord and another part of the body
2. a large vein in a leaf
3. any of the veins of an insect's wing
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Does a preemptive block of great auricular nerve improve postoperative analagesia in children undergoing tympanomastoid surgery.
She presently has no symptoms, except for slight hypoesthesia in the distribution of greater auricular nerve and is under regular follow-up (Fig.
In the present case, the patient had cervical region tuberculosis (?Lymph nodal involvement), which later also involved the adjacentgreat auricular nerve (peripheral nerve)composed of branches of spinal nerves C2 and C3.This was the cause of her painful neck swelling.
The author hypothesized that partial superficial parotidectomy with facial nerve dissection and preservation might result in even less morbidity if only a 1-cm margin of normal parotid parenchyma was removed and the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve were preserved.
This group was made up of 15 patients who had undergone the standard partial procedure with a 2-cm margin of normal parotid parenchyma and sacrifice of the great auricular nerve (group A), and a matched group of 15 patients who had undergone the modified version with a 1-cm margin and preservation of the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve (group B).
Although this difference is certainly significant, it does indicate that preservation of the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve does not prevent alterations in sensitivity in all patients.
A significant number of patients in group B (7 of 15 [46.7%]) experienced a tactile sensory deficit despite preservation of the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve. This finding is consistent with studies by other authors, who have reported persistent earlobe and infraauricular hypoesthesia in as many as 50% of patients whose posterior branches were preserved.
The result of preservation of the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve is that significantly fewer patients will experience hypoesthesia of the earlobe or infraauricular area.
With respect to the anterior branches of the great auricular nerve, it was not possible to perform any procedure in this series without sacrificing them.
Randomized prospective study of the validity of the great auricular nerve preservation in parotidectomy.
Palpation of the peripheral nerves revealed tenderness and thickening of the right ulnar and both common peroneal nerves, with non-tender thickening of both greater auricular nerves and right sural nerve.
No enlarged nerves were observed, even along the ulnar and posterior auricular nerves. Deep tendon reflexes were preserved.