AP Biology : Understanding the Central and Peripheral Divisions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Biology

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

Nervous tissue contains multiple support cells for neurons. These support cells are collectively referred to as neuroglia.

Which of the following is the support cell that myelinates axons in the peripheral nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Satellite cells

Astrocytes

Schwann cells

Oligodendrocytes

Correct answer:

Schwann cells

Explanation:

Schwann cells are responsible for the myelination of axons in the peripheral nervous system.

Oligodendrocytes also myelinate axons, but they are found in the central nervous system. Astrocytes and satellite cells help support neurons, but do not contribute myelin to axons.

Example Question #2 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

Which of the following structures is found only in the peripheral nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Free nerve ending

White matter

Gray matter

Interneurons

Oligodendrocytes

Correct answer:

Free nerve ending

Explanation:

The central nervous system houses the brain and spinal cord only. The peripheral nervous system refers to all other nervous structures in the body.

Free nerve endings are usually located just under the skin, and respond to pain and large changes in temperature, making them part of the peripheral nervous system.

Oligodendrocytes, white matter, and gray matter are only found in the central nervous system. Interneurons are most commonly found in the spinal cord, but can be found in either the peripheral or central nervous system.

Example Question #3 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

Which of the following lists only structures that are part of the central nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Left and right hemispheres of the brain, spinal cord, adrenal cortex

Thalamus, hypothalamus, thymus

Cranial nerves, parathyroid glands, cerebellum

Cerebellum, hippocampus, spinal cord

Spinal cord, cerebral cortex, cranial nerves

Correct answer:

Cerebellum, hippocampus, spinal cord

Explanation:

The components of the central nervous system are the brain and the spinal cord only. The remaining structures of the nervous system belong to the peripheral nervous system. The hemispheres of the brain and the spinal cord are part of the central nervous system. The hippocampus, cerebellum, hypothalamus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex are structures within the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memory storage and the cerebellum is associated with balance and coordination. The cerebrum is responsible for processing information and higher thought. These structures are also part of the central nervous system.

The cranial nerves attach directly to the spinal cord, but branch out into the periphery. They are not considered part of the central nervous system. The adrenal glands and parathyroid glands are part of the endocrine system. Though they can respond to stimulation from the nervous system, they cannot be classified as part of the peripheral or central nervous system.

The thymus is an endrocrine gland located above the heart and is not part of the nervous system.

Example Question #4 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

Which of these is not found in the central nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Microglia

Pineal gland

Thalamus

Cerebellum

All of these are found in the central nervous system

Correct answer:

Pineal gland

Explanation:

Though the pineal gland is found within the skull, it is not composed of nervous tissue and is not considered part of the central nervous system. Instead, it is an endocrine organ that interacts with the nervous tissue of the brain that surrounds it.

The thalamus and cerebellum are both structures of the brain, and are thus part of the central nervous system. Microglia function as macrophages in the central nervous system to prevent infection within the blood-brain barrier.

Example Question #5 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

The parasympathetic nervous system is a subdivision of which branch of the nervous system?

Possible Answers:

The spinal cord

The central nervous system

The peripheral somatic nervous system

The peripheral autonomic nervous system

Correct answer:

The peripheral autonomic nervous system

Explanation:

There are two major criteria that can be used to define nervous system categorizations. The first is location in the body. The central nervous system consists only of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system extends throughout the rest of the body. The central nervous system is enclosed by the blood-brain barrier, separating it from the rest of the body. The second classifier is mechanism of control. Some nervous pathways can be controlled voluntarily (somatic), while others are involuntary (autonomic).

The sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions are both peripheral autonomic pathways.

Example Question #6 : Understanding The Central And Peripheral Divisions

The brain and spinal cord belong to what division of the nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Somatic nervous system

Sympathetic nervous system

Peripheral nervous system

Central nervous system

Autonomic nervous system

Correct answer:

Central nervous system

Explanation:
The central nervous system contains the brain and spinal cord.
All of the other answer choices are divisions of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS is divided into the autonomic (involuntary) and somatic (voluntary) divisions, and the autonomic divison is further divided into sympathetic ("fight-or-flight" response) and parasympathetic ("rest-and-digest" response) portions.
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