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What Is the Autonomic Nervous System?

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Definition:

The autonomic system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that is responsible for regulating involuntary body functions, such as heartbeat, blood flow, breathing and digestion.

This system is further divided into two branches: the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. The sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system regulates the flight-or-fight responses. This division also performs such tasks as relaxing the bladder, speeding up heart rate and dilating eye pupils.

The parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system helps maintain normal body functions and conserves physical resources. This division also performs such tasks as controlling the bladder, slowing down heart rate and constricting eye pupils.

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