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This article discusses information pertinent to the study of neuroanatomy.
The first known written record of a study of the anatomy of the human brain is the ancient Egyptian document the Edwin Smith Papyrus.
Immunocytochemistry is a special case of histochemistry that uses selective antibodies against a variety of chemical epitopes of the nervous system to selectively stain particular cell types, axonal fascicles, neuropiles, glial processes or blood vessels, or specific intracytoplasmic or intranuclear proteins and other immunogenetic molecules, e.g., neurotransmitters.
Immunoreacted transcription factor proteins reveal genomic readout in terms of translated protein.
This immensely increases the capacity of researchers to distinguish between different cell types (such as neurons and glia) in various regions of the nervous system.
The brain is small and simple in some species, such as the nematode worm, where the body plan is quite simple: a tube with a hollow gut cavity running from the mouth to the anus, and a nerve cord with an enlargement (a ganglion) for each body segment, with an especially large ganglion at the front, called the brain.
Histochemistry uses knowledge about biochemical reaction properties of the chemical constituents of the brain (including notably enzymes) to apply selective methods of reaction to visualize where they occur in the brain and any functional or pathological changes.
In vertebrates, the nervous system is segregated into the internal structure of the brain and spinal cord (together called the central nervous system, or CNS) and the routes of the nerves that connect to the rest of the body (known as the peripheral nervous system, or PNS).
For information about the composition of animal nervous systems, see nervous system.
For information about the typical structure of the human nervous system, see human brain or peripheral nervous system.
The delineation of distinct structures and regions of the nervous system has been critical in investigating how it works.
For example, much of what neuroscientists have learned comes from observing how damage or "lesions" to specific brain areas affects behavior or other neural functions.