Peripheral nerves are very important intel gatherers on what’s going on outside of the body. If this were a war scenario, peripheral nerves would act like scouts, as they extend out far to the edges of the body and gather relevant data to be sent back to the command centre (which in this case, is the brain). You may or may not be aware of this, but the brain cannot function optimally without the support of peripheral nerves. It’s like trying to run a business without any receptionists: businessees would not be run in an effective manner.
A picture of the peripheral nerves throughout the body can be seen here. The peripheral nerves are the primary information gatherers of the human body and play a similar role that a front-of-house receptionist would in a business: they pick up information from the outside world and then, instead of talking with, calling or e-mailing the information to the relevant person, the nerves transmit the information up through the spinal cord into the relevant centre of the brain, and the brain then in turn sends a message back. A summary of this process can be seen in the SmartArt graphic shown here:
Types of Peripheral Nerves
- This is discussed in detail in the the Cranial Nerves section: there are three separate pages dedicated to discussing the twelve types of nerves, I-IV can be accessed here, V-VIII is here, and IX-XII can be seen here.
Other Types of Nerves
The other types of nerves are mentioned in the tables below. The first one briefly talks about the three different types of plexus, whereas the second table discusses the individual nerves: just click on them to enlarge. Alongside is a picture of the spine to give you an indication of where the nerves originate.
Summary:Different Types of Peripheral Nerves
What peripheral nerves do in the body is dependent on where they are located and what function they are meant to perform. Some peripheral nerves are related to parts of our body which are under our conscious control, like the skeletal muscles, whereas others are connected to parts of our body that we have no conscious control over whatsoever, like the lungs or the heart. The heart may be a muscle, however it is a specialized type of muscle known as cardiac muscle which acts independently from skeletal muscles, as does the gastrointestinal tract which uses smooth muscle. Both of these are run by the ANS.
The peripheral nerves that are connected to our skeletal muscles are referred to as the SNS or the somatic (conscious) nervous system, and all the other peripheral nerves are referred to as the ANS or autonomic nervous system.