Biology » The Nervous System » The Peripheral Nervous System

Summarizing the Peripheral Nervous System


The peripheral nervous system contains both the autonomic and sensory-somatic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system provides unconscious control over visceral functions and has two divisions: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is activated in stressful situations to prepare the animal for a “fight or flight” response. The parasympathetic nervous system is active during restful periods. The sensory-somatic nervous system is made of cranial and spinal nerves that transmit sensory information from skin and muscle to the CNS and motor commands from the CNS to the muscles.



neurotransmitter released by neurons in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system

autonomic nervous system

part of the peripheral nervous system that controls bodily functions

cranial nerve

sensory and/or motor nerve that emanates from the brain


neurotransmitter and hormone released by activation of the sympathetic nervous system

parasympathetic nervous system

division of autonomic nervous system that regulates visceral functions during rest and digestion

sensory-somatic nervous system

system of sensory and motor nerves

spinal nerve

nerve projecting between skin or muscle and spinal cord

sympathetic nervous system

division of autonomic nervous system activated during stressful “fight or flight” situations

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