Regulatory system in human body controls communication between tissues, organs and cells. This system comprises nervous and endocrine systems. These systems interact with each other resulting in the control of various activities of human body.
The nervous system is made up of a network of almost a trillion neurons. This allows for the passage of signals between the body and the brain. The central nervous system-CNS is broadly divided in to central and peripheral systems. The former is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord while the later is composed a network or nerves in the body. The CNS communicates through neurons. These vital organs, namely brain and spine, are protected by skull for the brain and membrane tissue called meninges for the spine. cerebrospinal fluid engulfs these organs for more protection. The CNS processes all the sensations and thoughts experienced by us. Various sensors in the body transmit the signals called stimuli to the brain. The brain instructs certain response to the surrounding environment which is transmitted to the intended parts of the body and its action, movement and response is controlled by CNS.
Peripheral nervous system – PNS stems from the CNS. The network of nerves is nothing but axons emanating from the neurons. The PNS is additionally divided in to somatic and autonomic systems.
Endocrine system is required for communication all through the body and is comprised of many glands in the body which secrete hormones to control functions like digestion, growth, blood pressure and metabolism. Some important glands are hypothalamus, pineal, thyroid, pineal, testes and ovaries. Each gland secretes hormones to control a specific function.
Hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain, connects the endocrine and nervous systems. This regulates the response to stimuli like stress, thirst, hunger, sleep and sex. Hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland and hence, controls secretion of hormones from other endocrine glands.
The factor which differentiates nervous system from endocrine system is the time taken to respond to a given stimulus. Nervous system takes a few milliseconds to give a response while endocrine system may respond in a few seconds, hours or even days to a stimulus.
The endocrine system produces hormones in response to a stimulus which is transported to the required organ through the blood. While chemical signals get generated by the nervous system which acts over short distances. The response to a given stimulus lasts for small duration of time in the nervous system while the effects of the endocrine system last longer.
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About.com: The Nervous System and Endocrine System