functions of the Somatic nervous system: The somatic nervous system is one of the components or divisions of the complex human nervous system. This system is capable of both transmitting information to the brain and driving the orders it issues to the rest of the body. Without this system, people would not be able to analyze environmental stimuli and issue adaptive responses or behaviors. If you want to learn more about it, keep reading this online Psychology article: Somatic nervous system: what it is and function.
What is the somatic nervous system
To understand what the somatic nervous system is, we must first know that the nervous system is divided into two main parts:
- The central nervous system, formed by the brain and spinal cord.
- The peripheral nervous system, which contains those nerves that are not found in the central nervous system. The somatic nervous system, together with the autonomic nervous system, is part of the peripheral nervous system.
Somatic nervous system: definition
What do we call the somatic nervous system? The somatic nervous system is a part of the nervous system composed of different structures responsible for transmitting information.
This system is responsible for maintaining the communication of sensory and motor information with the brain and spinal cord, that is, with the central nervous system.
Parts of the somatic nervous system
The somatic nervous system is formed by the set of neurons that connect both the skin, muscles and sensory organs with the central nervous system. The somatic system is formed by two types of neurons :
- The sensory neurons: are related to the senses and perception.
- The motor neurons: are related to the movement.
The sense of the transmission of information is bidirectional since sensory neurons are afferent and transport nerve impulses to the central nervous system, while motor neurons are efferent and drive these impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles. skeletal
Somatic nervous system: function
What is the function of the somatic nervous system? What does the somatic nervous system take care of?The process of functioning of the somatic nervous system begins, normally, by the transmission of sensitive information captured by sensory neurons to the central nervous system, where it is processed by the brain. Once interpreted by the central nervous system, it sends a series of signals or orders through the motor neurons to the skeletal organs and muscles. From this scheme, the somatic nervous system performs a series of functions of vital importance for the proper functioning of the organism: functions of Somatic nervous system
- The main function of the somatic nervous system is that of communication and connection between the central nervous system and the organs, skin, and muscles of the organism.
- It transmits information from sensory receptors, conscious and unconscious, to the central nervous system.
- It drives the orders and decisions of the brain to the skeletal muscles.
- This system allows both the interpretation of the stimuli, through sensory neurons, and the production of responses based on the processing of this information through motor neurons. Therefore, the somatic nervous system enables the relationship and adaptation to the environment.
- Thanks to the sensory neurons of the somatic nervous system the brain can capture odors, flavors, sounds, etc.
- Another of the functions of this system is nociception, that is, the transmission of information about pain and temperature to the brain, with the aim of activating responses on the other hand that favor survival.
- The voluntary movements and complex actions are regulated and controlled by this system, such as writing or running. This is possible by contracting skeletal musculature.
- Also, involuntary movements or reflex acts are other functions of the somatic nervous system. These acts are carried out when a nerve, sensory and motor pathways connect directly with the spinal cord.
- Another function of the somatic nervous system is proprioception, the process by which the body is informed about the state or position of the musculature. This function allows balance and coordination, among others.
Somatic and autonomic nervous system: differences
Both the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system are part of the so-called peripheral nervous system. Despite this, they are not equal. Here are the
- The somatic nervous system is mainly responsible for voluntary movements and, to a lesser extent, also for reflex acts. Instead, the autonomic nervous system is responsible for involuntary functions, those that do not require conscious control, such as breathing and digestion.
- Another function of the somatic nervous system is sensory, the autonomic nervous system lacks it.
- The somatic nervous system is a two-way system, afferent and efferent, so that information and nerve impulses flow in both directions between the central nervous system and this. However, in the autonomic nervous system, nerve impulses are transmitted from the brain and spinal cord to this, it is, therefore, a uniquely efferent system.
- The autonomic nervous system is functionally divided into two other systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, while the somatic nervous system is unitary.
- The somatic nervous system is made up of spinal and cranial nerves. The autonomic nervous system is formed by roots, plexuses, and nerve trunks.
- The action of the somatic nervous system is always excitatory on skeletal musculature, but that of the autonomic nervous system can be excitatory or inhibitory.
Diseases of the somatic nervous system
Below we list and explain some of the most common diseases or conditions of the somatic nervous system:
- Disc herniation: occurs when a disc in the spine travels to the spinal nerves, pressing it and generating pain, numbness and/or loss of sensation.
- Radial nerve paralysis: known as “fallen hand”, it is a pathology that affects the nerve that controls the muscles that allow arm extension. This paralysis causes the inability to extend the wrist, so it is hanging.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: pressure on the wrist nerve, causing numbness and loss of movement in the palm of the hand and fingers. This syndrome is associated with people who normally work with their hands performing repetitive movements.
- Neuralgia: it is caused by nerve damage or irritation, causing an intense and intermittent sensation of pain and shock.
- Spinal stenosis: narrowing of the spinal cord canal that houses the nerves. This creates weakness, cramps, numbness or numbness in the neck and back.
- Guillain-Barré syndrome: a disorder in which the immune system itself mistakenly attacks the nerves. The first manifestations are tingling and weakness in the extremities, spreading rapidly and producing paralysis in the body, which remits with treatment.
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