The endocrine and nervous systems work together like interlocking super systems to control many intricate activities of the body. Together they monitor changes in the body and in the external environment, interpret these changes, and coordinate appropriate responses to reestablish and maintain a relative equilibrium in the internal environment of the body (homeostasis).
The endocrine system is made up of a network of ductless glands, which have a rich blood supply that enables the hormones they produce to enter the bloodstream. (See Figure Locations of major endocrine glands.) Hormone production occurs at one site, but their effects take place at various other sites in the body. The tissues or organs that respond to the effects of a hormone are called target tissues or target organs.
In contrast to the endocrine system, which slowly discharges hormones into the bloodstream, the nervous system is designed to act instantaneously by transmitting electrical impulses to specific body locations. The nervous system controls all critical body activities and reactions. It is one of the most complicated systems of the body. The nervous system coordinates voluntary (conscious) activities, such as walking, talking, and eating, and involuntary (unconscious) functions, such as reflexes to pain, body changes related to stress, and thought and emotional processes.
Locations of major endocrine glands.
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