• Question: how can the brain give messages to the body in 1 second?

    Asked by 11hew to Jemma, John, Lisa, Sam on 27 May 2012.
    • Photo: Lisa Fitzgerald

      Lisa Fitzgerald answered on 27 May 2012:

      Hi @11hew, messages are passed from the brain to the body by the nerves. Impulses or messages are passed between nerves using chemicals but then travel along the length of the nerves which travel down your spinal cord and along your limbs using electrical impulses. Rather than travelling from cell to cell which would be relatively time consuming the nerves are surrounded by layers strips of fat, called myelin sheaths, which insulate from electricity. The electrical impulse are therefore forced to jump between the gaps in the fat layers and there for travel a lot faster down the kength kf the nerve, reaching their destination in well under a second.


    • Photo: Jemma Ransom

      Jemma Ransom answered on 28 May 2012:

      Hi @11hew, how are you?

      The brain sends electrical signals around the body via cells called nerves (or neurons). These are like the electrical wires in your house, they transport electricity very quickly.

      If you think of a light switch in your house for instance, when you switch it on, the light turns on immediately. This is how quickly a nerve can conduct electricity too. The longest pathway from your brain to your body connects your brain and your big toe. So how about you try something for me? Think about moving your toe, how long did it take for the message to get there? I’d wager not very long 🙂

      Hope this answers your question