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Difference Between Central and Peripheral Nervous System

Central vs Peripheral Nervous System

The nervous system is a set of organs and networks containing specially differentiated cells called neurons and other specialized, supportive cells, tissues, and bio chemicals, which help in the functioning of the nervous system. The major functions of the nervous system deal with the acquisition, processing, comprehension, storing and transmission of information. For this purpose, there are multiple organs and sensory organs arranged all over the body, having varied and very discrete functions. Depending on the distribution of these organs, we can divide the nervous system into central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. We will look into the arrangement, the organs, and functions of these two systems in the following paragraphs.

Central Nervous System

The central nervous system mainly contains the brain and the spinal cord. These two have a very specific bony protective covering, supplemented by the other soft tissues. The brain is divided into forebrain, mid brain, hind brain. Most of the functional mapping for the muscular movements and the sensory perceptions, as well as the executive functions, is distributed throughout the fore brain into discrete regions. The mid brain constitutes a part of the brainstem, which is vital in keeping the person alive such as defensive physiological reflexes, respiration, and cardiac pacemaker control, whereas the hind brain is involved in the formation of the cerebellum, which is essential in maintaining balance of the body.

The spinal cord is limited by the brainstem atop and the first lumbar vertebrae and neuronal extensions (cauda equina) below. They are divided into separate areas that function as the control hub for information from the brain, which are to be transmitted to the peripheral nerves as well as to perform reflex functions of the peripheral organs.

Peripheral Nervous System

The peripheral nervous system is not protected by an osteolithic cavity or a blood brain barrier. It contains all the nerves and the ganglia for the nerves. There are various divisions of peripheral nerves. But to include all aspects, we can consider them as being, motor, sensory and autonomic. The motor nerves are again divided as voluntary and involuntary, with the involuntary actions liaised with the autonomic functions. The voluntary motor activities are produced through cranial nerves as well as spinal nerves, and they are transmitted from the cerebral cortex. The involuntary ones are mostly for visceral organs; thus, within the scope of the autonomic nervous system. The sensory nerves are also divided as spinal and cranial, and they perceive sensations of touch, temperature, pressure, cold, vibration, proprioception, etc, which is transmitted to the sensory cortex in the brain. The autonomic nerves that have distributions to cranial nerves, as well as forming spinal nerve plexi on occasion, are classified by their actions of sympathetic and parasympathetic and conducts the actions of visceral organs.

What is the difference between Central and Peripheral Nervous System?

Both these systems are managed by neurons, each having equal physiology and the mode of conducting information, and supported by similar structures. But the main differences lie at the varied differentiations, the proportions of the supportive structure, and the distributed chemical signatures.

• CNS is protected by the bone and a blood brain barrier whereas the PNS is not.

• CNS is concerned with storing, comprehending and executing information appropriately, but the PNS is more about transmission to far away structures.

• The main varieties in the PNS can be classified easily, but the CNS functions are of multiple levels and need greater understanding.

• A damage to a PNS structure will cause only localized damage, but damage to a CNS structure can lead to global damage.


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