Neuro-Anatomy

Neuron

The study of structure of the nervous system is essential for the understanding of our interaction with the outside world: how the brain and spinal cord and peripheral nerves control the whole body, and how they give us each sensation, movement, thought and emotion we experience.

The structure of the nervous system can be studied through the traditional dissection of cadevers. Anatomy is a Greek word coming from "ana-" meaning up or through and "tome" meaning a cutting. Examination by the naked eye allow us to see the strucutre of the body. This is the gross or macroscopic level. We can also examine the structure of our organs through microscopic study of minute layers of tissues mounted on slides and stained with special dyes to show specific structures under the light microscope or electronic microscope. This is the main method in the science of Histology of the nervous system.

Brain structures are quite complex as they are a result of millions of years of evolution through different species of the animal kingdom. Embryology or the study of the development of the organism inside the womb shows how the human brain passes through the same evolutionary stages similar to brains of other animals during the growth of the foetus. This is called the biogenetic law of Haeckel and is often stated as ‘ontogeny, that is the development of an embryo, recapitulates or repeats phylogeny, that is evolution.’

The study of the structure of an organ is not enough to understand its functions and how it works. Other fields of study in neuroscience tries to shed light on the mysteries of the brain. Neuro-anatomy can help us understand the inner components of the machine, but neurophysiology, neurochemistry and neuro-endocrinology makes understanding better. However, many aspects of human behaviour can not be understood with all possible knowledge of neurobiological sciences. In an analogy of the brain and computer, all our knowledge about the hardware of a computer is not enough to make us understand why the printer is bringing out wrong prints with wrong data. The fault may be in the software, which only someone with knowledge in programming can correct. This is why our knowledge of psychology with all its schools supplement our understanding of the complexity of human behaviour, both morbid and healthy.

Neuro anatomy is the basis for any surgical intervention in the nervous system: Neurosurgery depends fully on deep and thorough understanding of neuroanatomy. Anatomical knowledge with understanding of pathology of the nervous system used to be the main tool for diagnosis in Neurology, before modern diagnostic technologies such as CT scan and MRI. Neuropathology studies the changes in anatomical structures in the case of illness which is the basis for clinical examination and diagnosis. Neuro anatomy is also important in the field of comparative neuroanatomy.