Divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System

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Preganglionic neurons of the sympathetic division of the autonomic system originate in the thoracic and lumbar levels of the spinal cord and send axons to sympathetic ganglia, which parallel the spinal cord. Preganglionic neurons of the parasympathetic division, by contrast, originate in the brain and in the sacral level of the spinal cord, and send axons to ganglia located in or near the effector organs.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic system have some structural features in common. Both consist of preganglionic neurons that originate in the CNS and postganglionic neurons that originate outside of the CNS in ganglia. However, the specific origin of the preganglionic fibers and the location of the ganglia differ in the two divisions of the auto-nomic system.

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