As noted at the Neuroscience for Kids website, all of the body's systems are interrelated and dependent upon each other. This is also true of individual organs. The lungs are one of the body's vital organs. The lungs are located inside the chest cavity, just behind the breastbones. They are responsible for the transfer of oxygen to the body and work in conjunction with other individual organs and bodily systems to ensure gas exchange takes place.
The lungs are usually associated with the respiratory system. The respiratory system is a combination of bodily organs that aid in the breathing process. The airways, lungs and blood vessels are some of the major organs in this system. After air is carried through the airways, it is brought to the lungs where it is filtered and oxygen is passed through the blood vessels, while carbon dioxide is removed from the blood and transferred to the lungs.
After oxygen passes through the airways and lungs and enters the blood vessels, it is carried to the heart. The lungs, therefore, play a central role in the circulation of blood, which is controlled by the circulatory system. The heart is the major organ in the circulatory system, and the lungs and heart are always in cooperation. The heart passes "used" blood, rich in carbon dioxide, back into the lungs. The carbon dioxide passes into the alveoli of the lungs and is released when we breathe.
As noted in the University of Colorado at Boulder's helpful online article, the lungs are "spongy" and "elastic"; they possess no muscle tissue of their own. Nevertheless, they are constantly working to distribute oxygen throughout the body. This constant work is made possible by the various muscles that surround the lungs and provide support, which include the diaphragm and rib cage muscles. These muscles allow for the expansion and relaxation of the lungs, which brings oxygen in and out.
The Nervous System
Although the lungs do not work with the nervous system directly, one could say that the nervous system is the "regulator" for the lungs. The nervous system, which passes messages and signals through the body, regulates the rate of gas exchange in the lungs and monitors the amount of gases present in the lungs and surrounding blood vessels.
- Photo Credit thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com
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