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Influence of the nervous system on the endocrine system

  1. Jul 25, 2016 #1
    In explanations of the nervous and endocrine systems, so far, I have only heard that they influence each other or work together in some way.

    Can anyone give me an example or two on how exactly the nervous system would influence/activate/stimulate the endocrine system? And if vice versa?

    Many thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2016 #2
  4. Jul 26, 2016 #3
    Thanks @Replusz!
    The answer in the link mainly focuses on what the endocrine system does, but doesn't really talk much about the nervous system and what it would do to, other than that it "functions without the body's awareness or control" and that "hypothalamus receives information and is involved in a number of functions of the nervous system".

    I'd love to find some specific example where some nervous system function influences the endocrine system, and vice versa.
  5. Jul 26, 2016 #4

    Fervent Freyja

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    Processes with the endocrine system will almost always have effects on the nervous system. You cannot really separate the two. Lets say, that my adrenal medulla begins to pump out some adrenaline when I begin an autoerotic fantasy, which signals my heart rate to increase, reinforcing the process, and also helping me maintain the feedback loop of other hormones involved in the hypothalamus like dopamine and oxytocin. There will be many other responses also occurring in the nervous system. After a certain period, I may begin to sweat from my hearts extra exertion. The skin will appear flushed because my entire vascular system is pumping blood at a faster rate, everywhere, particularly keen to make it towards the center of the earth with the assistance of gravity... Much of the nervous system could be said to be activated in this case. It is a very healthy process.
  6. Jul 26, 2016 #5
    Thanks for your feedback @Fervent Freyja!

    So basically, having a specific thought will automatically be accompanied by some sort of an endocrine system processes, and then it will all be sort of a positive feedback cycle? And vice versa, if for some reason the endocrine system starts some process, it will influence the nervous system.

    Basically this means that they really work "hand-in-hand" and are "matching/complementary". Sort of, if we think thoughts that are relaxing, then the body's endocrine system will produce relaxing hormones, and also, if the we feel relaxed due to taking relaxing hormones, our neurons will fire neurotransmitters that relax the mind?

    In essence, it doesn't make sense for the nervous system to be firing stimulating neurotransmitters, and to have the endocrine system respond by secreting calming hormones, they should always work together, unless the body is not functioning well of course.
  7. Jul 26, 2016 #6
    I remember being told that the brain had two messenger systems, the peripheral nervous system and the endocrine system, the first being fast and having very specific effects the second being slower and often having more general or systematic effects. This is partially true I suppose but its much more complicated, first there are hormones that are independent of neural control, we can ignore them. The secretion of many hormones is directly controlled by the brain, in fact some glands are derived from neural germ cells including the posterior pituitary, the pineal gland. and the adrenal medulla, but the main regulation is by the anterior pituitary gland which controls glands all around the body. In fact the hormones it releases are mostly synthesised in the hypothalamus. Hormones can have a range of effects which might seem very different in the body from their effects in the brain and many hormones cannot cross the blood brain barrier. There are hormones like Nor-epinephrine which act as hormones in the body but are also neurotransmitters in the brain, there are a group of hormones only really found in the brain (neuro-hormones), some influence neural firing (neuro-modulators) and others that can cause some fundamental changes over a long period of time (like the sex hormones).
    I think the publicity around stress and anxiety makes people think of these fairly rapid reactions and its right that the two messenger systems work together, often in quite complex ways but remember they often do very different jobs in the body.
    I think the more we learn about neuro-chemistry it simply emphasises that we have no real understanding of how it all comes together but I think a good guiding principle is whenever you read something that says this neurotransmitter does this or this hormone has this effect, its rubbish, none of these things work in isolation, its live every neurone is sat in a neuro-chemical soup with up to 10,000 other neurones with direct connections, trying to influence when it might fire.
  8. Jul 27, 2016 #7
    That is very helpful @Laroxe, thanks!

    Perhaps all this would in a way explain Paul Ekman's stance that we feel good when we put a smile on our face, and vice versa, that we smile when feel good?
  9. Jul 27, 2016 #8

    Fervent Freyja

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    Right, most of the endocrine systems purpose is to directly influence processes in the nervous system. Think of it as the maestro.
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