Nervous System

Peripheral Nervous System: Autonomic Nervous System

How do the neural pathways of the autonomic nervous system differ from the somatic nervous system?

In the somatic nervous system, the myelinated axon of a motor neuron extends directly from the central nervous system to the effector (e.g., skeletal muscle). Neural pathways in the autonomic nervous system always consist of two neurons. The first neuron, the preganglionic neuron, has its cell body in the central nervous system. Its myelinated axon extends from the central nervous system to an autonomic ganglion, or junction, where it synapses with a second neuron. The second neuron, the postganglionic neuron, is in the peripheral nervous system.


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