Parasympathetic Nervous System: Definition, Function & Effects

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Somatic Nervous System: Definition, Function & Example

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Introduction
  • 0:37 The Autonomic Nervous System
  • 2:04 The Parasympathetic…
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling bodily processes that are not under our own voluntary control. Under normal circumstances, the parasympathetic division of the ANS is the most active. This article discusses the function of the parasympathetic nervous system in the human body.

Day-to-Day Activities

Imagine it's a typical day of your life, and you're sitting down to eat one of your daily meals. You eat the meal, your body begins to digest it, and you move on to the next task at hand. Doesn't sound really exciting, does it?

As it turns out, in the course of our normal daily activities, the nervous system is actively working to ensure that you are able to function in this normal, day-to-day existence. Specifically, it is the parasympathetic nervous system that controls the body processes under normal circumstances.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system, or ANS, is the portion of the nervous system that regulates involuntary processes. In other words, these are processes that are not under conscious control. The ANS is divided into two divisions: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems.

The sympathetic nervous system, also called 'fight-or-flight' activation, is the segment that prepares the body for emergency situations. Since emergency situations are typically not common, most people are infrequently under sympathetic nervous activation.

The parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the 'rest and digest' activation, is the segment that assists with normal, autonomic functions. In other words, you are typically in parasympathetic nervous system control most of the time. Since this is the normal state of the body, the parasympathetic system is more active than the sympathetic system in controlling bodily functions.

Neurons in the parasympathetic nervous system utilize acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter for cell-to-cell communication. Any tissues that are controlled by the parasympathetic system will have receptors for acetylcholine so that this system can communicate with them. This communication results in several physiological processes, such as the following.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support