Spinal cord provides the link between the brain and rest of the body. It is a cylindrical cord like structure. It is about 45 cm long and about 35 gm in weight. The spinal cord extends from the medulla oblongata through the neural canal formed by the protective bony arches of vertebrae, almost the length of the spine.
Structure of Spinal Cord : The spinal cord consists of a central canal surrounded by a central core of grey matter, which is surrounded by the white matter. Grey matter surrounding central canal is H shaped or bufferfly shaped. The Grey matter contains the bodies of neurons with tree like branching of their dendrons and neuroglial cells. The white matter is composed of obliquely running medullated nerve fibres supported by prolongations of the neuroglia. These are spinal nerves arising from the spinal cord.
Functions of Spinal Cord
- Spinal cord is the centre of spinal reflex actions.
- The spinal cord is concerned with the conduction of nerve impulse to and from the brain.
- Bundles of nerve fibres that ascend along the white matter of the spinal cord are called ascending tracts. They conduct nerve impulse from the spinal cord to the brain.
- The descending tracts, conduct impulses from the brain to different levels of the spinal cord.