Difference Between Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System (With Table)

The nervous system is such a part of an animal body that it manages everything. It coordinates signals between various organs of the body and the brain. A nerve cell or neuron does the work of sending signals to other cells. The brain, spinal cord and nerves are the vital parts of the nervous system. The system has two different parts of its own: the Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System.

Central Nervous System vs Peripheral Nervous System

The difference between Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System is that the Central Nervous System functions with the help of the brain and spinal cord, whereas the Peripheral Nervous System functions with the help of nerves and nerve cells. The CNS decodes, delivers and receives signals from the effector organs, while the PNS sends and receives signals to and from the CNS. Various types of neurons function in the PNS.

The brain and spinal cord are the primary components of the Central Nervous System. Receiving sensory impulses or signals from the effector organ and sending back the required responses is what the CNS does. The nerve axons carry the nerve impulses. The CNS is further categorised into two varieties of matter; one is grey, and another is white. Talking of grey matter, it consists of neurons, and white matter consists of the nerve axons.

On the other hand, the nerve cells and nerves are the main components of the Peripheral System. It delivers information to the CNS and then sends the received response to the effector organs. The neurons and clusters of neurons that do the work are known as Ganglia. The PNS is further divided into Somatic and Autonomic Nervous Systems.

Comparison Table Between Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System

Parameters of Comparison Central Nervous System Peripheral Nervous System
Composition The brain and spinal cord are its primary composition.Nerves and nerve cells are their primary composition.
FunctionIt carries impulses to and from the organs and the brain. It carries impulses between the CNS and the effector organs.
Regeneration of Nerves The CNS does not possess the capability of regenerating nerves. Almost every nerve of the PNS is regenerated easily.
Effect of DamageDamage caused to it can affect the whole body. Damage caused to it only affects the specific area.
ProtectionIt has physical protection from the skull bones and spinal column. No protection is given to it.

What is Central Nervous System?

The Central Nervous System, or as abbreviated, the CNS, is there for managing and coordinating almost everything within the body and mind. There are two main parts to it; the brain and spinal cord. In the body, the centre of thinking and reactions is the brain. It decodes information from various organs. The spinal cord acts as a communication channel between other organs and the brain.

The CNS needs a high amount of protection from injuries all the time. As it is the main system that manages sensory signals, any damage to it can be a major threat to the whole body. Bones of the skull and the spinal column provide a primary defence to the CNS from any physical injury. Unlike other organs of the body, the CNS cannot repair itself from injuries.

Neurons connect to send and receive signals from the brain through the spinal cord to the other organs and vice-versa. Astrocytes act as the basic support for the brain and spinal cord. Microglia works for providing immunity to the brain. Oligodendrocytes have myelin which wraps axon fibres.

Synapses are the tiny gaps between the neurons, which transmit signals from one neuron to another. Neurotransmitters help in this process. When the signals finally reach the brain, they are interpreted, and the reaction signals are sent back to the effector organs within the animal body.

What is Peripheral Nervous System?

The Peripheral Nervous System or, as abbreviated, the PNS is the secondary nervous system in animals. It is composed of the nerves and nerve cells in clusters. It is known for connecting other organs with the Central Nervous System. Basically, it acts as a connection channel between the brain, spinal cord and the body for sensory signals.

Going on further, the PNS has two systems: Somatic and Autonomic. The SNS takes voluntary control over movements taking place in the body. In contrast, the ANS has involuntary control over smooth muscle cells and glands. The SNS does the work of transmitting signals from the senses. The ANS takes care of the heart rate or digestion.

There is no physical protection introduced for the PNS in the body, unlike the CNS. It remains exposed to injuries and toxins all the time. This leads to the threat of various diseases for the PNS. If in a mechanical injury, a peripheral nerve gets damaged, mononeuropathy is caused. Again, there is Carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs due to the increased size of other components.

Various types of actions need different responses that suit them. After the CNS decodes the sensory signals, the message is sent to the effector organs going through the PNS for delivering the required reaction.

Main Differences Between Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System

  1. The CNS constitutes the brain and spinal cord, and the PNS constitutes neurons and nerves.
  2. The CNS carries signals from the brain to the body, while the PNS carries signals from the CNS to the organs.
  3. Only the PNS is capable of nerve regeneration.
  4. Damage to the CNS affects the whole body, while the PNS is only affected when any damage happens to it.
  5. Only the CNS has physical protection from other organs.


The brain is known as the ultimate place of control in the animal body. It has the authority to decide and instruct the organs of the body. The organs act according to the interpretation of a signal by the brain. The brain is a component of the nervous system. The said system is further classified into Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System.

The Central System carries along with the sensory signals from the brain and the body. In between them, there is the PNS which carries those signals to the effector organs. In this process, the neurons and neurotransmitters come to help. The process is completed when the required responses come out as reactions. 


  1. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/251204/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012160698989138
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