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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Compare the structure of somatic and autonomic reflex arcs
  • Explain the differences in sympathetic and parasympathetic reflexes
  • Differentiate between short and long reflexes
  • Determine the effect of the autonomic nervous system on the regulation of the various organ systems on the basis of the signaling molecules involved
  • Describe the effects of drugs that affect autonomic function

The autonomic nervous system regulates organ systems through circuits that resemble the reflexes described in the somatic nervous system. The main difference between the somatic and autonomic systems is in what target tissues are effectors. Somatic responses are solely based on skeletal muscle contraction. The autonomic system, however, targets cardiac and smooth muscle, as well as glandular tissue. Whereas the basic circuit is a reflex arc    , there are differences in the structure of those reflexes for the somatic and autonomic systems.

The structure of reflexes

One difference between a somatic reflex    , such as the withdrawal reflex, and a visceral reflex    , which is an autonomic reflex, is in the efferent branch    . The output of a somatic reflex is the lower motor neuron in the ventral horn of the spinal cord that projects directly to a skeletal muscle to cause its contraction. The output of a visceral reflex is a two-step pathway starting with the preganglionic fiber emerging from a lateral horn neuron in the spinal cord, or a cranial nucleus neuron in the brain stem, to a ganglion—followed by the postganglionic fiber projecting to a target effector. The other part of a reflex, the afferent branch    , is often the same between the two systems. Sensory neurons receiving input from the periphery—with cell bodies in the sensory ganglia, either of a cranial nerve or a dorsal root ganglion adjacent to the spinal cord—project into the CNS to initiate the reflex ( [link] ). The Latin root “effere” means “to carry.” Adding the prefix “ef-” suggests the meaning “to carry away,” whereas adding the prefix “af-” suggests “to carry toward or inward.”

Comparison of somatic and visceral reflexes

The top panel in this figure shows the autonomic efferent pathway. The spinal cord is shown on the left, and a myelinated axon is shown going from the spinal cord to the central neuron. An unmyelinated axon is shown going from the central neuron to the target effector. The bottom panel shows the somatic efferent pathway. The spinal cord is shown on the left, and a myelinated axon is shown going from the spinal cord to the target effector director. In both cases, magnified images show the synapses.
The afferent inputs to somatic and visceral reflexes are essentially the same, whereas the efferent branches are different. Somatic reflexes, for instance, involve a direct connection from the ventral horn of the spinal cord to the skeletal muscle. Visceral reflexes involve a projection from the central neuron to a ganglion, followed by a second projection from the ganglion to the target effector.

Afferent branch

The afferent branch of a reflex arc does differ between somatic and visceral reflexes in some instances. Many of the inputs to visceral reflexes are from special or somatic senses, but particular senses are associated with the viscera that are not part of the conscious perception of the environment through the somatic nervous system. For example, there is a specific type of mechanoreceptor, called a baroreceptor    , in the walls of the aorta and carotid sinuses that senses the stretch of those organs when blood volume or pressure increases. You do not have a conscious perception of having high blood pressure, but that is an important afferent branch of the cardiovascular and, particularly, vasomotor reflexes. The sensory neuron is essentially the same as any other general sensory neuron. The baroreceptor apparatus is part of the ending of a unipolar neuron that has a cell body in a sensory ganglion. The baroreceptors from the carotid arteries have axons in the glossopharyngeal nerve, and those from the aorta have axons in the vagus nerve.

Questions & Answers

Rheumatoid arthritis affects
Jessica Reply
what is oedema
Nantumbwe Reply
i want abook about physiology including the vitamins
Belal
fluid retention in the body. (also spelt as edema) e.g. fluid retention in the lungs is called Pulmonary Edema). It can also happen as a result of Injury manifested as swelling.
Arif
can you give me an example of a tissue composed of few related types of cells
Theresa Reply
What is LMx1600
Mae Reply
the skeletal system includes all of the bones
All Reply
what is the bone not contain red bone marrow in medulla
Duha Reply
To know the part of human body
Sarah Reply
Anatomy refers to as structure of human body
Sarah
so is the macroscopic and microscopic the types of anatomy
Gloria Reply
is microscopic and macroscopic a type of anatomy
Gloria
yes
Maxine
yes
Yabsra
yes
Sarah
Please can someone explain three glands in endocrine system?
josh
.
Robin
can someone explain disease and the category
gege
type 2 is controled by diet
Chloe Reply
Diet and life style
Paias
Diet how? maybe eating food containing less sugar?
BTS
we must eat protein food to check our diet
Sarah
type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled by insulin so therefore your diet should be well balanced especially you shouldn't eat foods with high sugar level or stopping sugar at all so that the sugar content needed by your body will be provided by the balanced diet taken
Enada
what is hypotension
regina Reply
hypotension is when the blood pressure is less than 60/50
Mursal
hypo means low so it implies low blood pressure
Isaac
ok
Mursal
what is mild DKA
Mursal
mild diabetic ketoacidosis is when there is high level of sugar in the blood and the ketone bodies build up in the body ,is a type 1 which can lead to type 2
Isaac
what is the normal range for blood pressure?
BTS
120 over 80
Danielle
low blood pressure; opposite of high blood pressure which is hypertension
Regina
what if your a type 2 diabetic and you have no way to get meds due to no insurance what is some good over the counter medications to take?
Ashley
type 2 diabets is controlled by diet not meds.type 1 is contolled by insulin.
Chloe
type 1 diabets cant be controlled type 2 can be controlled.type 1 is worse than type 2 diabets.
Chloe
type 2 is purely a lifestyle disease, eat healthy, fresh, natural unprocessed real foods.
Danielle
sometime , we already eat diabetic diet than the results of blood sugar level not turn good , what is the reason ?
Muhammad
What is a "diabetic diet" though? Be specific. Juvenile diabetes and/or Type 1 diabetes is something that one can be born with, this needs medical diagnosis and intervention.
Danielle
what i mean by diabetic diet is we take fiber-rich food like vegetables,nut and also fish.
Muhammad
ok, no cause a doctor told me I needed metformin and my suger won't go under 300
Ashley
what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
Plasma contains fibrinogen while serum doesn't
Kateregga
plasma ----- fibrinogen = serum
Sneha
serum is blood plasma without fibrinogen or other clotting factors While blood plasma contains dissolved protein like fibrinogen,globulin, and albumin), glucose, clotting factors,mineral ions like Na2+,Cl-1,hormones and carbon dioxide
Prince
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
Mercy
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
Enada
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
Manisha
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
Manisha
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Ariete
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
Ariete
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
Sneha
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
said
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me
okolie

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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