Dictionary > Autonomic nervous system

Autonomic nervous system

The part of the peripheral nervous system that is associated in involuntary muscle movement
The peripheral nervous system, together with the central nervous system, makes up the nervous system. In vertebrates, the peripheral nervous system is not found inside the skull and vertebral column just as central nervous system is. Thus, all the nerves and ganglia outside the brain and spinal cord are part of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is comprised of two major parts: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system is that part of the peripheral nervous system associated with voluntary muscle movements. The autonomic nervous system is the one that is involved primarily in supplying stimulation from the motor nerves to the involuntary muscles and to the glands of the body. Therefore, it is associated with bodily functions such as digestion, respiratory rate, micturition, heart rate, and so on. It has two main divisions: (1) parasympathetic nervous system and (2) sympathetic nervous system. It is involved in the control of the fight-or-flight response as well as the freeze-and-dissociate response.1
Abbreviation / Acronym: ANS

See also:

  • peripheral nervous system
  • involuntary muscle
  • nerve
  • parasympathetic nervous system
  • sympathetic nervous system
  • Reference(s):

    1 Schmidt, A; Thews, G (1989). “Autonomic Nervous System”. In Janig, W. Human Physiology (2 ed.). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. pp. 333–370.

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