ANS-Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Systems

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  • Created by: Munpreet
  • Created on: 31-03-13 11:16

What is the ANS

The ANS is the autonomic nervous system. Along with the stomatitis nervous system it transmits information to and from the central nervous system. It transmits information to and from the CNS to life organs. It's given the name autonomic because it mainly works on an automatic basis.

You can however use a biofeedback machine to gain some control over the ANS. The biofeedback machine will help you exert voluntary conscious control over these bodily functions.

E.g when you have been to see a scary movie, you have felt your heart pound and you have got sweaty. This is the work of the ANS.

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The ANS is split into two sub systems. These are the Sympathetic Nervous Systems and the Parasympathetic Nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system generally increases bodily activities. And the parasympathetic nervous system generally maintains or decreases bodily activities. They work at the same time in opposite action to each other.

The sympathetic nervous system prepares your body for a situation where you may be threatened. E.g, when in a threatening situation such as walking home in a dark alleyway and you hear a noise. The ANS will prepare you to flight (run away) or fight (stay and fight).

This happens by your pupils being dilated, heart rate being increased, diverting blood from your stomach to the muscles, making hairs on your body stand on end.

It can also affect your body in an adverse way, eg when giving a presentation or speech, your SNS may cause your mouth to become dry, sweat or to shake. Even panic attacks are the result of the SNS.

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The Parasympathetic Nervous System supports normal body activities, it venally decreases bodily activities making it conserve energy, and store energy as well. It acts as a brake and reduces bodily activities that were increased by the SNS. (working in opposite directions).

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The Endocrine System: The adrenal glands

The endocrine system is made up of a number of hormone secreting glands. Wen secreted, the hormones will travel through the blood stream and affect different organs in different ways.
The endocrine system provides a means of communication to the nervous system.
The chemical structure of hormones are similar to neurotransmitters. E.g adrenalin is the same as epinephrine. So when in a threatening situation, the SNS will make change to your body at the same time hormones are released. This is why after a threatening situation, someone may still feel really jittery and anxious as the hormone take time to wear away.

MAIN GLAND: the main gland of the endocrine system is the pituitary gland. This is located in the brain and releases hormones that stimulate other glands to release hormones too. Interaction between endrocrine system and central nervous system occurs in the hypothalamus. So the hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland and the whole endocrine system.

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Other glands in the Human Body

Other glands in the human body are:
-The thyroid gland: the hormones released affect general metabolism, mood and
energy levels of organism.

Testes and Ovaries: secrete testosterone and oestrogen and progesterone.

Adrenal glands: secrete adrenalin as well as other hormones, thesis hormone prepares
your body for flight or fight.

Adrenalin has been linked to stress as it is released during stressful periods of time. Eg death of a loved one, breakup with a friend or partner, moving house etc.
When the brain perceives a stressful event: 2 chemical actions occur: 1 fast, and 1 slow.

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Fast Chemical Response and Slow Chemical Response

The Fast Chemical Response:
The brain stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which in turn instructs the adrenal gland to release adrenalin. This is the adrenalin rush.

The Slow Chemical Response:
The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone in turn allows the release of glucose which creates a burst of energy.

Stressors are often short termed but if stressors become a serious long term problem they can have exhausting effects on the psychical and mental aspects of a person.

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