Parasympathetic Nervous System
Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Quigley, K. S. 2010. Parasympathetic Nervous System. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is one of the divisions of the autonomic nervous system that controls the function of organs and glands in the body (the efferent portion), and the PNS senses changes in these visceral systems (the afferent portion); the other autonomic division is the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The neurons that comprise the efferent PNS (also called the craniosacral system) arise from either the cranial nerves, which exit from the brain stem and spinal cord, or from the sacral portion of the spinal cord. Cranial nerve parasympathetic fibers innervate the viscera of the head, neck, chest, and upper abdomen, including the upper portions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sacral parasympathetic fibers innervate the lower GI tract and other organs of the pelvis.