Most of us don’t even have a clue of how our body works. Let alone how trauma gets stored and the most important thing how to heal it. In this article I will try to explain the basics of our human nervous system anatomy so in the next post we can discuss the one an only Polyvagal Theory.
Let's start this by defining what is a nerve. A nerve is a bundle of motor and sensory fibers which are wrapped around layers of tissue and fat. So this bundle of nerves are connected to each other to create our whole nervous system. Our nervous system is in charge of interpreting information received by the outside world and internal organs. Its job is to initiate the appropriate responses to the outward environment. It is essential to the to our sensory perception including the control of our motor skills and the regulation of our heartbeat and our breathing.
Nerves pass chemical information via the neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and serotonin to each others synapses which transmit messages and instructions across the body in an ongoing translation of chemical and electrical information.
Our nervous system divides itself into two important areas. The CNS (Central Nervous System) which compounds the brain and the spinal cord and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).
The CNS comprehends the brain and the spinal cord which controls the nervous tissue throughout the body.
The PNS is the division of the nervous system containing all the nerves that lie outside of the central nervous system (CNS). The primary role of the PNS is to connect the CNS to the organs, limbs, and skin. The PNS has two main divisions the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
The Somatic Nervous System:
The Somatic Nervous System (SNS) collects information about the outside world from sensory organs such as the nose, skin. It is responsible for transmitting sensory information as well as for voluntary movement.
The Autonomic Nervous System:
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is responsible for regulating involuntary body functions, such as blood flow, heartbeat, digestion, and breathing. In other words, it is the autonomic system that controls aspects of the body that are usually not under conscious control. It is divided in two parts:
Parasympathetic system: This division of the ANS helps maintain normal body functions and conserve physical resources. Once a threat has passed, this system will slow the heart rate, slow breathing, reduce blood flow to muscles, and constrict the pupils. This allows us to return our bodies to a normal resting state.
Sympathetic system: By regulating the fight, flight and freeze response the sympathetic system prepares the body to expend energy to respond to environmental threats. When action is needed, the sympathetic system triggers a response by accelerating heart rate, increasing breathing rate, boosting blood flow to muscles, activating sweat secretion, and dilating the pupils.
So in conclusion we can see now how our overall nervous system works. In the next post we are going to discuss the polyvagal theory and how trauma affects our nervous system and body as a whole.
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