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an outline of the body showing the central nervous systemThe nervous system is the network of nerves that allows the body to send messages to and from muscles and organs and to maintain awareness of the outside world through the senses.

The nervous system is divided into two areas:

  • Central nervous system (CNS)
    This consists of the brain and spinal cord and is enclosed within the skull and spine.
  • Peripheral nervous system (PNS)
    All other nerves. These connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body.

The central nervous system receives, processes and stores information from the peripheral nerves and sends out messages telling the body how to respond.

Only nerves in the central nervous system are damaged by multiple sclerosis. However, MS can affect all parts of the body due to the damage blocking nerve messages within the central nervous system.

The central nervous system is made up of two types of cells - nerve cells (neurons) and support or glial cells.

Last reviewed: 25 February 2016
This page will be reviewed within three years