Is the autonomic nervous system mainly responsible for maintaining homeostasis, controlling glands, controlling the heart, or all of these?

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Jan 7, 2018


Yes, mostly, except some actions, like heart rate or gland action may also be affected by hormones.


The two motor pathways are the somatic and autonomic, the somatic is generally associated with controlled movement, IE the skeleton.
Autonomic processes are generally associated with non-controllable actions in the body.
They can be split into sympathetic (increasing) and parasympathetic (decreasing) systems. Each of these two systems have their own attributes, one being that, generally, the neurotransmitter used in sympathetic pathways is noradrenaline, and in parasympathetic it's acetylcholine.

So if the heart rate needs to decrease, the vagus nerve will release acetylcholine to send a signal to the SAN in the heart to slow the heart rate.
But if the heart rate needs to increase, noradrenaline will be released down the accelerans nerve to the SAN.

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