Nerve tissue is the primary component of the nervous system in the bodies of vertebrates, including humans. The nervous system consists of nerves that are responsible for controlling, as well as regulating, body functions. The brain and spinal cord are also included, meaning there are several different types of nerve tissue are present in the body.
There are two main categories of nerve tissue: that found in the central nervous system and that in the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of tissue found in the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system contains nerve cells, fibers, and ganglia located elsewhere in the body.
The tissue located in the brain and spinal cord consists of both gray and white matter. Gray matter is responsible for muscle control in the body, and it also helps with various sensory perceptions, including the ability to hear and see. Speech, memory, and emotions are also regulated by this type of nerve tissue. The white matter of the central nervous system helps regulate important body functions, such as blood pressure and body temperature.
The nerve tissue in the peripheral nervous system includes nerves in both the spinal cord and outside the brain. This tissue primarily connects the central nervous system to the rest of the body, so it's present in each of the body systems. The peripheral nervous system is broken into two sub-categories: the autonomic and somatic nervous systems.
The somatic nervous system is designed to help with voluntary body functions and other tasks that can be consciously controlled. Intentional muscle movement is an example of this type of tissue at work. This system also helps a person be aware of his or her immediate surroundings by assisting in the senses of the body, such as processing sight and sound.
The autonomic nervous system contains tissue that helps regulate body functions that cannot be controlled on a conscious level, such as digestion and the regulation of the heart rate. The ability to sweat or produce saliva is also attributed to the tissue found in the autonomic nervous system. The act of breathing is controlled by the cooperation of both the somatic and autonomic nervous systems.