Autonomic nervous system
Porges, Stephen, W. Department of Human Development, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.
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The part of the nervous system that controls visceral functions of the body. This system innervates smooth and cardiac muscle and the glands, and regulates visceral processes including those associated with cardiovascular activity, digestion, metabolism, and thermoregulation. The autonomic nervous system functions primarily at a subconscious level. It is traditionally partitioned into the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system, based on the region of the brain or spinal cord in which the autonomic nerves have their origin. The sympathetic system is defined by the autonomic fibers that exit thoracic and lumbar segments of the spinal cord. The parasympathetic system is defined by the autonomic fibers that either exit the brainstem via the cranial nerves or exit the sacral segments of the spinal cord. See also: Parasympathetic nervous system; Sympathetic nervous system
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