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How Does Stress Affect the Nervous System?

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By Tess Thompson The nervous system is a network of nerves (neurons) that are interconnected with each other through a complex network. It is comprised of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which is a large network of nerves. The nervous system responds to external as well as internal stimuli. To give specific instructions to various parts of the body on how to react to a specific stimulus, the neurons use electrochemical signals. Stress stimulates the CNS and prepares it to meet stressful situations. During the preparation, the body goes through various physiological changes that are initiated to enable fight or flight. This is the function of the autonomic nervous system, which is comprised of the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous systems. Both of these perform entirely opposite functions. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for stress responses, while the ... more
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