Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system - one of the major mammalian systems responsible for sustaining life. The central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) work in concert to coordinate basic functions such as moving and breathing, as well as 'higher order' functions including thought, speech and emotion.
Incidence of Neurological Disease
The incidence of degenerative neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, is increasing worldwide. As these diseases are typically associated with advancing age, this increase is partly due to rising life expectancy. However, environmental factors such as pesticide and insecticide use, are being discussed as possible etiologies for these neurodegenerative diseases.
Classification of Disease
Neurological diseases can be classified according to their etiology. They can be caused by:
~Genetic mutations (e.g. Huntington's disease)
~Development abnormalities (e.g. spina bifida)
~Degeneration (e.g. Alzheimer's disease)
~Diseases of the blood vessels that supply the nervous system (e.g. stroke)
~Infection (e.g. encephalitis)
At present pharmacological interventions for many neurological diseases, especially the degenerative conditions, are limited and predominantly restricted to alleviation of symptoms. The understanding of the nervous system, and prevention and treatment of neurological disorders represents one of the critical goals of medical research today. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis are currently the focus of intense neuroscience research.
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