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Introduction and classification of autonomic disorders 

Introduction and classification of autonomic disorders
Chapter:
Introduction and classification of autonomic disorders
Author(s):

Roger Bannister

and Christopher J. Mathias

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198566342.003.0001
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date: 10 April 2020

The autonomic nervous system innervates every organ in the body, creating, as Galen suggested, ‘sympathy’ between the various parts of the body. It has as complex a neural organization in the brain, spinal cord, and periphery as the somatic nervous system, but remains largely involuntary or automatic. Claude Bernard wrote ‘nature thought it provident to remove these important phenomena from the capriciousness of an ignorant will’. Langley, who in 1898 first proposed the term ‘autonomic nervous system’, based his experiments on the blocking action of nicotine at synapses in ganglia. In 1921 Loewi discovered ‘Vagusstoff’, which was released by stimulation of the vagus nerve and proved to be acetylcholine. In the same year Cannon discovered that ‘sympathin’, later shown to be noradrenaline, was produced by stimulation of the sympathetic trunk. The basis was laid, therefore, for Dale’s distinction between cholinergic and adrenergic transmission in the autonomic nervous system. A detailed history of the autonomic nervous system is provided after this chapter....

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