Autonomic Nervous Systems

  • Ruud Buijs
Reference work entry


The autonomic nervous system (ANS) serves to transmit precise and well-directed information from the brain to selective organs. This information adapts the organs to changes in behavior that are commanded by the brain. Much can be learned in the way the ANS is functioning from the study on how the biological clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), prepares every 24 h the physiology of the body via the ANS to the coming changes in behavior. Hereto, the SCN has indirect connections with the motor neurons of the parasympathetic and sympathetic system. These interactions are proposed to be characteristic for the way also other brain regions such as the amygdala and preoptic area may affect the ANS. Information what is dearly missed at this moment are about the possibilities of the ANS to talk back to the CNS. Especially, information is missing on how visceral information may be transmitted from spinal sensory centers to the rest of the brain while also only in general terms can be known how ascending information of the nucleus tractus solitarius reaches higher centers in the brain.


Motor Neuron Autonomic Nervous System White Adipose Tissue Clock Gene Autonomic Motor 
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Further Reading

  1. Craig AD (2002) Opinion: how do you feel? Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body. Nat Rev Neurosci 3:655–666PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ferguson AV, Latchford KJ, Samson WK (2008) The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus – a potential target for integrative treatment of autonomic dysfunction. Expert Opin Ther Targets 12:717–727PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Grill HJ (2010) Leptin and the systems neuroscience of meal size control. Front Neuroendocrinol 31:61–78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Porges SW (2007) The polyvagal perspective. Biol Psychol 74:116–143PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Reekie YL, Braesicke K, Man MS, Roberts AC (2008) Uncoupling of behavioral and autonomic responses after lesions of the primate orbitofrontal cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:9787–9792PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Smith PM, Ferguson AV (2010) Circulating signals as critical regulators of autonomic state–central roles for the subfornical organ. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 299:R405–R415PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones BiomedicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexicoMexico

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