What IS the Nervous System?

Today's short post from sciencedaily.com (see link below) gives a relatively simple description of what the nervous system actually is. When people are told that they have neuropathy and that it involves damage to the nerves and an interruption to the normal working of the nervous system, they often just accept it and leave the consultation with a prescription. It's only when they get home that they wonder what the nervous system actually is and what's happened to it to cause such unpleasant symptoms. This article explains it technically but in terms that most won't have difficulty understanding. More detailed information can be found by following the link.

Nervous system

The nervous system of an animal coordinates the activity of the muscles, monitors the organs, constructs and also stops input from the senses, and initiates actions.

The nervous system of vertebrate animals is often divided into the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord.

The PNS consists of all other nerves and neurons that do not lie within the CNS.

The large majority of what are commonly called nerves (which are actually axonal processes of nerve cells) are considered to be PNS.

The peripheral nervous system is divided into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

The somatic nervous system is responsible for coordinating the body's movements, and also for receiving external stimuli.

It is the system that regulates activities that are under conscious control. The autonomic nervous system is then split into the sympathetic division, parasympathetic division, and enteric division.

The sympathetic nervous system responds to impending danger or stress, and is responsible for the increase of one's heartbeat and blood pressure, among other physiological changes, along with the sense of excitement one feels due to the increase of adrenaline in the system.

The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is evident when a person is resting and feels relaxed, and is responsible for such things as the constriction of the pupil, the slowing of the heart, the dilation of the blood vessels, and the stimulation of the digestive and genitourinary systems.

The role of the enteric nervous system is to manage every aspect of digestion, from the esophagus to the stomach, small intestine and colon.


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