American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The part of the vertebrate nervous system that regulates involuntary action, as of the intestines, heart, and glands, and that is divided into the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
- n. neuroanatomy In humans and other vertebrates, the part of the nervous system that regulates the involuntary activity of the heart, intestines and glands. These activities include digestion, respiration, perspiration, metabolism, and the modulation of blood pressure.
- n. the part of the nervous system of vertebrates that controls involuntary actions of the smooth muscles and heart and glands
“It has been shown by Cannon6 that such major emotions as fear, rage, or pain acting upon the adrenal glands through the autonomic nervous system are accompanied by an increased discharge of adrenalin into the blood, and by a passing of stored glycogen from the liver for circulation through the body as dextrose, the object of which is the increasing and liberation of muscular energy for the animal's successful flight or fight.”
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