Difference Between Endocrine and Nervous System

Main Difference – Endocrine System vs Nervous System

Endocrine system and nervous system are the two systems involved in coordinating the functions of the body. Both endocrine and nervous system send signals to the effector organs, tissues, or glands to maintain the homeostasis of the body. The endocrine system is composed of glands. The nervous system is composed of the brain, spinal cord, and other peripheral nerves. The main difference between endocrine system and nervous system is that endocrine system transmits electrical impulses through neurons to the effector organ whereas nervous system sends chemical substances called hormones to the effector organ through the blood. The body takes time to respond to the signals of the endocrine system. However, the responses to the nervous system occur in a very short period of time. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Endocrine System
      – Definition, Characteristics, Function
2. What is Nervous System
      – Definition, Characteristics, Function
3. What are the Similarities Between Endocrine and Nervous System
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Endocrine and Nervous System
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Brain, Central Nervous System (CNS), Endocrine System, Glands, Hormones, Neurons, Nervous System, Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), Spinal Cord

Difference Between Endocrine and Nervous System - Comparison Summary

What is Endocrine System

Endocrine system refers to the collection of glands that produce, store and secrete hormones. Hormones are the chemicals which transmit the signals of the endocrine system. They regulate the functions of the body such as growth and development, homeostasis of the body systems, metabolism, reproduction, and response to stress or injury. The endocrine glands secrete hormones to the blood in order to be transported to the effector organ. Some of the glands in the endocrine system are hypothalamus, pineal gland, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal gland, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland serve as the major endocrine glands that secrete hormones to regulate the production and secretion of hormones in most of the other endocrine glands in the body. The pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal gland are the other types of major endocrine glands.

Main Difference - Endocrine System vs Nervous System

Figure 1: Major Endocrine Glands and Their Hormones

The function of the endocrine system depends on age, stress, environmental factors, genetics, and disease conditions. The major endocrine glands and their hormones are shown in figure 1

What is Nervous System

Nervous system refers to the network of nerve cells that coordinate the functions of the body. The nerve cell is the structural and functional unit of the nervous system. The neuroglia are the supporting cells of the nervous system. It comprises the brain spinal cord, nerves, ganglia, receptor organs, and the effector organs. The parts of the nervous system can be divided into two: central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS comprises the brain and the spinal cord. The PNS comprises the rest of the peripheral nerves which receive stimuli through sensory neurons and transmit impulses to the effector organs through motor neurons. The peripheral nerves connect the body to the CNS. The PNS receive stimuli from both internal and external environment of the body.

Difference Between Endocrine System and Nervous System

Figure 2: Nervous System in Humans

The PNS can be further divided into two sections known as somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system coordinates the voluntary functions that can be regulated by the person. In contrast, the autonomic nervous system coordinates the involuntary functions. Neurotransmitters help the transmission of signals between two nerve cells. The human nervous system is shown in figure 2

Similarities Between Endocrine System and Nervous System

  • Endocrine and nervous system coordinate the functions of the body by responding to stimuli.

  • Both endocrine and nervous system maintain the homeostasis of the body.

  • Both endocrine and nervous system send signals to the effector organ.

  • Both endocrine and nervous system use chemical substances to send the signals.

Difference Between Endocrine and Nervous System

Definition

Endocrine System: Endocrine system refers to the collection of glands that produce hormones to control the functions of the body.

Nervous System: Nervous system refers to the network of nerve cells that coordinate the functions of the body by transmitting nerve impulses.

Composition

Endocrine System: Endocrine system is composed of glands.

Nervous System: Nervous system is composed of nerve cells that are arranged in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

Types of Signals

Endocrine System: Endocrine system uses chemical substances called hormones to transmit the signal to the effector organ.

Nervous System: Nervous system uses electric impulses and chemical substances called neurotransmitters to transmit the signals to the effector organ.

Signals Transmission

Endocrine System: In the endocrine system, the signals are signals transmitted through the blood.

Nervous System: In the nervous system, the signals are transmitted through nerve cells.

Whole System

Endocrine System: The whole endocrine system is not physically connected.

Nervous System: The whole nervous system is physically connected.

Time Taken for the Transmission

Endocrine System: The signals of the endocrine system take more time to reach the effector organ since they transmit through blood.

Nervous System: The signals of the nervous system are transmitted within a very short period of time.

Effect

Endocrine System: The effect of the endocrine system is widespread.

Nervous System: The effect of the nervous system is localized.

Functions

Endocrine System: The endocrine system controls the growth, hydration level, glucose level, heat productivity, sexual maturity, and the production of gametes.

Nervous System: The nervous system controls the muscle movement, heartbeat, digestion, breathing, senses, speech, and memory.

Affected by

Endocrine System: The function of the endocrine system depends on age, stress, environmental factors, genetics, and disease conditions.

Nervous System: Multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and cancers can affect the functioning of the nervous system.

Conclusion

Both endocrine system and nervous system coordinate the functions of the body to maintain homeostasis in response to various internal and external stimuli. The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce hormones, regulating actions like the growth, development, and reproduction in the body. The nervous system is made up of nerve cells, which are organized into the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Since the signals of the nervous system are transmitted as electric impulses, the body’s response to the nervous system occurs quickly than that of the endocrine system. The main difference between endocrine and nervous system is the type of transmitters used by each system to transmit the signals.

Reference:

1. “About the Endocrine System.” EndocrineWeb, Available here. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.
2. “Nervous System Anatomy, Diagram & Function.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Feb. 2015, Available here. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Endocrine central nervous en” By LadyofHats – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “1201 Overview of Nervous System” By OpenStax  (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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