Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems



Central Nervous System (CNS) – Brain and Spinal Cord

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) – Network of nerves connecting CNS to body

Two subdivisions: Somatic Nervous System and Autonomic Nervous System


Somatic Nervous System – Sensory information from skin and muscles to CNS

Autonomic Nervous System – Messages to and from internal organs

Two subdivisions:

Sympathetic Nervous System  =  arousing

Parasympathetic Nervous System  = calming

The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of all nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is made up of two major divisions: the somatic division and the autonomic division. The somatic division consists of nerve fibers that convey information from the brain and spinal cord to skeletal muscles to control movement and send information back to the brain via the spinal cord from sensory receptors. The autonomic division controls the glands and muscles of the internal organs such as the heart, digestive system, lungs, salivary glands, and so on. The autonomic division consists of two branches: the sympathetic branch and the parasympathetic branch. The sympathetic branch is involved in arousing the body and mobilizing its energy during physical exercise and in stressful situations. It also activates the adrenal glands to release epinephrine into the bloodstream. The parasympathetic branch calms the body and is involved in the conservation and replenishment of energy.


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Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

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