Online College Courses for Credit

Peripheral Nervous System

Peripheral Nervous System

Author: Rebecca Newburn

Introduces the sensory and motor divisions of the peripheral nervous system.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

29 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

314 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 27 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Big Idea

The peripheral nervous system consists of all the nerves that are found outside the central nervous system.

The peripheral nervous system is divided into the sensory and motor divisions, which are then divided into further systems and subdivisions.

Peripheral Nervous System

There are other nerves in your body that are not found in the brain or spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) (Figure below) contains all the nerves in the body that are found outside of the central nervous system. They include nerves of the hands, arms, feet, legs, and trunk. They also include nerves of the scalp, neck, and face. Nerves that send and receive messages to the internal organs are also part of the peripheral nervous system.

The peripheral nervous system is divided into two parts:

1)  sensory division - interprets messages from sense organs (ex. eyes, ears) and internal organs

 2) motor division - sends messages to internal organs, glands and muscles. The motor division is divided into two parts: 

           a)  autonomic nervous system (these are messages sent to organs and glands, ex. sweating and digesting food) 

          b)  the somatic nervous system (these are messages sent to muscles under voluntary control, ex. raising your hand or kicking a ball).


Before You Start

How does your brain connect with the rest of your body?

How does your brain get information from the outside world?

You know you have nerves in your fingers and toes because you can feel them. But how does your brain know what's going on in these nerves? You have a network of nerves running from your brain and spinal cord to your fingers and toes and the rest of your body. This network is known as the peripheral nervous system.