2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System
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  • Release Date: 2024-01-26
  • sympathetic nervous system
  • autonomic nervous system
Video Introduction

The sympathetic nervous system is a subdivision of the autonomic nervous system, which is the subdivision of the peripheral nervous system that controls automatic processes in the body like digestion, heart rate, and respiration. The sympathetic nervous system is typically associated with expending energy and the “fight-or-flight” response, which is a general response to alarming or threatening situations that involves increasing the ability of the body to act. The idea that the sympathetic nervous system is only active during “fight-or-flight” responses is an oversimplification, however, as it is also active in non-emergency responses and during times of rest.

The nerves that make up the sympathetic nervous system originate in the thoracic and lumbar spinal cord. Like other neurons of the autonomic nervous system, they do not typically travel directly from the spinal cord to their targets but Instead extend from the spinal cord to clusters of neurons in the peripheral nervous system known as sympathetic ganglia. The sympathetic neurons that travel to the adrenal medulla are one exception to this rule as they extend from the spinal cord directly to the adrenal medulla. Some of the ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system form a network of interconnected ganglia called the sympathetic chain ganglia. The sympathetic chain ganglia are found close to the spinal cord, while other ganglia known as prevertebral ganglia are closer to the organs they supply. The neurons that travel from the spinal cord to the ganglia are called preganglionic neurons, and they typically synapse with neurons in ganglia called postganglionic neurons. The postganglionic neurons then extend to the targets of the sympathetic nervous system, which are diverse and found throughout the body. The preganglionic neurons of the sympathetic nervous system primarily release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, while the postganglionic cells primarily release norepinephrine---although there are some postganglionic neurons that use acetylcholine as their primary neurotransmitter. [1][2]

  1. Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, Hall WC, Lamantia AS, Mooney RD, Platt ML, White LE, eds. Neuroscience. 6th ed. New York. Sinauer Associates; 2018.
  2. Wehrwein EA, Orer HS, Barman SM. Overview of the Anatomy, Physiology, and Pharmacology of the Autonomic Nervous System. Compr Physiol. 2016 Jun 13;6(3):1239-78. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c150037.
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Challenged, N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1083 (accessed on 23 June 2024).
Challenged N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1083. Accessed June 23, 2024.
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1083 (accessed June 23, 2024).
Challenged, N. (2024, January 26). 2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1083
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Sympathetic Nervous System." Encyclopedia. Web. 26 January, 2024.
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