Question 4

Outline the anatomy and physiology of the parasympathetic nervous system

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College Answer

Generally there was a lack of detailed knowledge, incorrect facts and at times confusion between 
the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system functions. A lack of anatomical detail was 
common (the origin of preganglionic cell bodies was not described clearly, and parasympathetic 
ganglia were not often named and located). It was expected an answer would mention the 
central role of Acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter at preganglionic and post ganglionic neurons 
in the parasympathetic system. Target organs were identified correctly but the exact action was 
not specified e.g. pupillary constriction vs. dilatation, GI sphincter/bladder - contraction vs. 
relaxation. Detail concerning receptor physiology was not required.
This is a question covering a core topic that no candidate passed. An overview of the 
arrangement and function of the autonomic nervous system is provided in several core 
physiology texts, including Ganong and Guyton.