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California Standards Biology

Standard 9b Preknowledge

9b) Students know how the nervous system mediates communication between different parts of the body and the body’s interactions with the environment.


An individual becomes aware of the environment through the sense organs and other body receptors (e.g., by allowing for touch, taste, and smell and by collecting information about temperature, light, and sound). The body reflexively responds to external stimuli through a reflex arc (see Standard 9.e in this section). (A reflex arc is the pathway along the central nervous system where an impulse must travel to bring about a reflex; e.g., sneezing or coughing.) Students can examine the sense organs, identify other body receptors that make them aware of their environment, and see ways in which the body reflexively responds to an external stimulus through a reflex arc.

Hormones work in conjunction with the nervous system, as shown, for example, in the digestive system, where insulin released from the pancreas into the blood regulates the uptake of glucose by muscle cells. The pituitary master gland produces growth hormone for controlling height. Other pituitary hormones have specialized roles (e.g., follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH] and luteinizing hormone [LH] control the gonads, thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH] controls the thyroid, and adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH] regulates the formation of glucocorticoids by the adrenal cortex). This master gland is itself controlled by the hypothalamus of the brain.