Somatic Nervous System Examples

List some examples of somatic nervous system reflexes and autonomic nervous system functions.

Expert Answers
Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The somatic nervous system (SNS), part of the peripheral nervous system, is made up of nerves connected to skin, muscles, as well as sensory organs. This system is an element of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system (which consists of a network of nerves that connect the limbs and organs to the brain and spinal cord) works together with the central nervous system (which consists of the brain and spinal cord).

The somatic nervous system oversees lifelong motor reflexes; primary motor infant reflexes, lifelong motor reflex schemes, and motor reflexes/motor reflexive responses. So, in essence, the somatic nervous system concerns itself with our voluntary control of muscles and our five senses. The somatic nervous system allows for us to voluntarily control muscles, and allows for our reception of sights (eyes), sounds (ears), sensations (feelings) in our skin, tastes (tongue/taste buds), and smells (nose). Since it is voluntary, we control mostly when this system works.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is always working, controls the functions of the viscera – our internal organs. Furthermore, the autonomic nervous system is an element of the above-mentioned peripheral nervous system. In addition, the ANS oversees some of the muscles within our respective bodies and also oversees our glands. The ANS has three sections: the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, as well as the enteric nervous system.

jgeertz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The body's entire system of nerves and ganglia, excluding the brain and spinal cord, is called the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is divided into two main parts - the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system's main job is to adjust and maintain the body's internal environment. These functions occur without us having conscious control of them. Some examples of the autonomic nervous system job's include: pulse rate, blood flow, pupil dilation/constriction.

The somatic nervous system is the system that helps the body adjust to the external environment through the voluntary movement of the skeletal system. Some examples of the somatic nervous system include: the blinking reflex, knee jerk reflex, gag reflex, and the startle reflex and  rooting reflex in infants.