About the book
The autonomic nervous system - with the previous name (the) vegetative nervous system - constitutes a part of the peripheral nervous system that connects the central regulatory structures like the hypothalamus and limbic connectivity with most of the visceral organs of the thorax and abdomen, smooth muscles, vessels, and glands, influencing the function of almost all internal organs. Most important functions that the autonomic nervous system controls are: heart rate, respiration, vasomotor activity, most reflex actions such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing and vomiting, pupillary activity, also urination, and sexual arousal, as well.
Traditionally, we divide the whole system into three branches: the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic one, and – not distinguished by all authors - the enteric nervous system. Simplifying the problem, it was assumed that the sympathetic part would play an excitatory role, while the parasympathetic one - the inhibitory function. In today’s views, we characterize the sympathetic nervous system as a "quick response mobilizing system" and the parasympathetic one - as a "slowly activated dampening system". Both parts play a complementary role with the best example in the control of sexual activities.
The dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system - dysautonomia - can be seen in many neurological and internal medicine diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and dementia with Lewy bodies, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy, and autonomic neuropathy, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, to restrict to the most important. The separate, distinctive and important problem is familial dysautonomia (Riley–Day syndrome) – progressive, genetically driven disorder of the autonomic system that involves primarily the victims of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, with life-threatening symptoms and signs.