An Anatomic Study of the Automatic Autonomic Nervous System
Department of Biology
College of Western Idaho
This interrupted case study begins with a woman’s discovery that both she and her husband are carriers for familial dysautonomia (FD), a disease that affects the development and survival of neurons in the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The case covers introductory information on the function and structure of the ANS, but goes beyond simple memorization of neurotransmitters and pathways to help students make connections between the system and a pathology that affects it. The case was originally developed for students in a year-long anatomy and physiology (A&P) course taught at a community college, but it may also be appropriate for first- or second-year university students, students in nursing or other professional programs, and possibly for high school students in honors or advanced placement A&P classes.
- Describe the role of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
- Define the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the ANS and describe the situations under which each is most active.
- Describe components of the ANS including the sympathetic trunk, preganglionic and ganglionic neurons, and target organs.
- Differentiate between cholinergic and adrenergic neurons and receptors, and discuss where each would be found.
- Understand the effects of acetylcholine binding cholinergic receptors, and norepinephrine and epinephrine binding adrenergic receptors.
- Make connections between the functions of the ANS and pharmaceuticals that have been developed to manipulate those functions, including beta blockers and beta agonists.
KeywordsANS; nervous system; autonomic nervous system; sympathetic; parasympathetic; familial dysautonomia; FD; neuron; neurotransmitter
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Professional (degree program), Clinical education
Type / MethodsDiscussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsAnatomy | Medicine (General) | Neuroscience | Nursing | Pharmacy / Pharmacology | Physiology |
Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.
Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.