2-Minute Neuroscience: Divisions of the Nervous System

2-Minute Neuroscience: Divisions of the Nervous System


Welcome to 2 minute neuroscience, where I
simplistically explain neuroscience topics in 2 minutes or less. In this installment
I will discuss the divisions of the nervous system. There are two major divisions of the nervous
system. The first is the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and the spinal
cord. The second is the peripheral nervous system, which consists of nerves that run
throughout the body. The peripheral nervous system itself is made
up of two subdivisions. The first is the somatic nervous system, which contains nerves that
carry sensory signals from the body to the central nervous system and nerves that carry
motor signals from the central nervous system to skeletal muscles. The somatic nervous system
is associated with voluntary movement. When you clicked on this video to play it, the
signal to depress your finger was sent from your brain to your finger via the somatic
nervous system. The second division of the peripheral nervous
system is the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is sometimes called
the involuntary nervous system, and it is involved in regulating the internal environment
of the body. It carries signals from internal organs to the central nervous system and from
the central nervous system to the internal organs. In this way, it is involved in regulating
things like digestion and heartbeat, which are generally outside the realm of conscious
control. The autonomic nervous system can be further
subdivided into sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibers. The sympathetic nervous system
plays a large role in stimulating and mobilizing energy resources, while the parasympathetic
nervous system acts to conserve energy. For example, if you are in a frightening situation,
the sympathetic nervous system will cause your heart rate to increase, your blood pressure
to increase, and your sweat glands to be stimulated. If you are eating a meal, however, and are
not frightened, your parasympathetic nervous system will stimulate digestion, increase
salivation, and slow your heart rate. Due to these functions, the sympathetic nervous
system is often described as being involved in fight or flight responses, while the parasympathetic
nervous system is described as being involved in rest and digest responses.

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About the Author: John Markowski

22 Comments

  1. I'm trying so hard to follow these short videos but the presenter talks so fast it is difficult to keep track of what he's saying. Does anyone know of good alternatives?

    Thanks

  2. As a rule of thumb you may keep in mind that the central neurvous system encompasses all parts that are shielded by bones.
    The entire rest of the system belongs to the peripheral nervous system.

  3. What category would breathing fall under: autonomic or somatic? It can be a voluntary and involuntary activity.

  4. Okay so the parasympathetic nervous system is what we would consider the default position, and the sympathetic nervous system is to utilize more energy and speed up involuntary activity to ensure survival in stressful conditions. At least I hope I'm right!

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