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Somatic nervous system

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Definition

noun

The part of the peripheral nervous system that consists of afferent nerves responsible in relaying motor and sensory information to and from the central nervous system and efferent nerves responsible in stimulating voluntary muscle movements


Supplement

The peripheral nervous system is part of the nervous system. Its main function is to relay information between the central nervous system and the extremities and organs. There are two main parts of the peripheral nervous system. These are the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is associated with involuntary muscle movements whereas the peripheral nervous system is associated with voluntary muscle movements. The somatic nervous system has two main types of nerves: afferent nerves and efferent nerves.

In humans, the somatic nervous system is comprised of three parts: (1) spinal nerves, (2) cranial nerves, and (3) association nerves. The spinal nerves are nerves carrying impulses from the spinal cord. The cranial nerves are nerve fibers carrying sensory information into and from the brain stem. The association nerves are nerves that integrate sensory input and motor output. In vertebrates, the response of skeletal muscle cells to neurotransmitters is always excitatory. In invertebrates, the response could be excitatory or inhibitory.


Abbreviation / Acronym: SoNS

Synonym(s):

  • voluntary nervous system

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