The nervous system can be defined as an integrated system of cells, tissues and organs that coordinate the body’s actions and responses to external and internal stimuli. The nervous system can be divided into the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). This paper will compare and contrast the two systems.
The PNS comprises of nerves and ganglia whose function is to receive and transfer information from external stimuli. The CNS on the other hand, is comprised of the brain and spinal cord which are involved in processing information. The PNS links the CNS to almost all parts of the human anatomy. While the key role of the CNS in a reflex arch is to process information, the PNS has to send an impulse from the stimuli, and then transmit a signal back from CNS to the appropriate effector organs in order to generate a response.
The actions involving the CNS are chiefly involuntary, as they involve processing information, and controlling various regulated parameters in the body. On the other hand, the PNS is involved in many voluntary actions such as dancing or picking up a hundred dollar bill (“Nervous System”, 2012). The two systems are made up of neurons which are comprised from different structures. For example, the myelin sheath surrounding axons in the CNS is made from oligodendyte cells, while that in the PNS is made from Schwaan cells.
The components of the CNS are divided according to their functions, ie. Cerebrum, cerebellum and the brain stem, with each part performing a specific function. The PNS is divided into the autonomic (involuntary) and somatic (voluntary) nervous system (Adams, n.d).
The main reason the two systems are divided is to show the functions of the nervous system more clearly. However, the two work together and are both essential in the normal functioning of the human body.
Adams, L., (n.d) What are the differences between CNS & PNS. eHow. Retrieved
Nervous System. (2012) BBC Science: Human Body and Mind. Retrieved from
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