Peripheral nervous system

Last revised by Ruggero Gabbrielli on 8 Jan 2024

The peripheral nervous system (PNS) consists of the nerves (cranial nerves III-XII and spinal nerves) and their related ganglia outside the central nervous system (CNS), the latter comprising the brain and the spinal cord. The central and the peripheral nervous systems together form the nervous system.

Unlike the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system is not protected by:

NB: cranial nerves I and II are considered part of the CNS


The main function of the peripheral nervous system is to allow the brain and the spinal cord to communicate with the viscera and the musculoskeletal system.

The peripheral nervous system has two main elements:

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